Monday, Apr. 18, 2005


Jay-Z's trailblazing contributions to hip-hop culture across America and throughout the world have helped raise the aspirations of millions of people. You can hear and feel the truth of his pulsating poetry and lyrics.

At 34, Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) is at the pinnacle of a career that has risen high above his early days in the crucible of Brooklyn's Marcy projects. He has had the courage to tell vivid stories about the realities of the urban experience with the precision of a master therapist whose words and rhymes tap into the consciousness of people who yearn for a better life.

Jay-Z's impact on the music industry runs deep. His 1996 debut album, Reasonable Doubt, went beyond just documenting the autobiographical struggles of a rapper. Like all his music, it encompassed the passion and spirit of a new generation of artists who were not going to be held down within the boundaries of what was considered acceptable. Today Jay-Z stands center stage with the penetrating sustainability of a living legend.

Jay-Z no longer performs, but he is still an active entrepreneur. The Roc-A-Fella label he began with Damon Dash has developed an incredible roster of rappers. The company averages some $50 million in annual revenues, and it has spun off a major clothing line, a film company and a vodka distiller. And Jay-Z was recently named president and CEO of hip-hop house Def Jam.

In yoga it's important to breathe correctly and connect one's breath to the pursuit of righteousness. I have seen my man Jay-Z spit a lyric instantaneously, without even having to take a breath. He just naturally does it. He epitomizes what it means to be cool.

Simmons co-founded Def Jam Records and is chair of Rush Communications

From the Archive
In His Next Lifetime: After years of platinum hits, Jay-Z says he's retiring from rap. Why? There's not enough money in it