By Gigi Abrantes
Since he first dropped his debut album in 1996, Jay-Z became an instant classic on the hip-hop scene. Now that he is about to drop his 11th album The Blueprint 3, MTV News takes a look back at the history of one of the greatest artists in rap history with The J to Z of Jay-Z.
He walked into the MTV Newsroom back in 2004 dressed in a striped button-down shirt, crisp brown jacket and smooth suede shoes. But none of what Jay-Z was rocking that day was as cool as the statement he was making: People in hip-hop shouldn’t be afraid to grow up. At age 30, Jay-Z was concerned that he couldn’t continue to be taken seriously as an adult and business man while dressed in a throwback basketball jersey.
At the beginning, Jay-Z’s approach to fashion was all over the map. From the baggy pants and sports jerseys that were stereotypically associated with the rap game to a tuxedo and top hat, Jay-Z’s music videos and songs incorporated various nods to fashion labels, styles and trends. Like fellow hip-hop moguls Russell Simmons (who created the Phat Farm clothing line in 1992) and Sean Combs (who started Sean Jean in ’98), Jay-Z expanded his influence from the music world into the fashion universe. And being the sharp business entrepreneur that he is, Hova acknowledged his influence on hip-hop culture and looked to refine the rap game’s tailoring through Rocawear, which he started with Damon Dash in 1999.
In 2007, Jay-Z sold Rocawear for $204 million, but he remains invested in the brand still in charge of product development, marketing and licensing.