- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

Gangsta rapper Jay-Z might have once sung about a "hard-knock life," but his fast rise from street thug to hip-hop's top celebrity has helped him turn those hard knocks into hard cash. He comes to Nation in Northwest tomorrow after releasing his sixth album, "The Blueprint," on Tuesday.
Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, grew up in Brooklyn in the 1970s and was raised mostly by his mother after his father left the family. He was drawn to rap as a teen-ager and turned to selling drugs.
When he entered the music business, he started a record label. His Roc-a-Fella Records (now expanded to include a clothing line and film company) has a number of young, hot artists. His last album was called "The Dynasty Roc La Familia 2000" and featured most of those same rappers.
This time around, Jay-Z, who has sold more than 12 million albums since 1997, plans to get more serious. That might have something to do with his frequently postponed trial. Jay-Z is accused of stabbing a record executive during a nightclub dispute in 1999 and also has a court date in October for an unrelated gun charge.
He recently described himself to MTV as the "mayor of the streets," calling the release of his latest album his re-election campaign. "The Blueprint" cuts down on the number of guest artists (Eminem appears on "Renegade") and nine of the tracks were written during a two-week spot of inspiration, he says.
"'The Blueprint' is a makeup of what I seen and what my life is and what made me the way I am," he says in an interview with MTV News. "It's about me it's more so about my thoughts and my opinions, and I wanted to just go at this on my own."
On the first single, "Izzo," Jay-Z says his tales of the street are often misinterpreted.
"I'm not glorifying it; I'm just telling you what happened," he says. "It's like holding a newscaster responsible for reporting the news."

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