“My life after childhood has two main stories: the story of the hustler and the story of the rapper, and the two overlap as much as they diverge. I was on the streets for more than half of my life from the time I was thirteen-years-old... The feelings I had during that part of my life were burned into me like a brand…
I lost people I loved, was betrayed by people I trusted, felt the breeze of bullets flying by my head… I went dead broke and got hood rich on those streets. I hated it. I was addicted to it. It nearly killed me.
It was the site of my moral education, as strange as that may sound. It’s my core story, and… that core story is the one that I have to tell.” - Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. 18)
Shawn Corey Carter, aka Jay-Z, wasn’t always a cultural icon married to Beyonce’ who had parlayed his success as a rap artist into a multi-millionaire empire with a host of diverse holdings ranging from a record label to a music publishing company to a clothing line to a nightclub chain to an NBA team. No, he spent his formative years in the Marcy Housing Projects in Bed-Stuy, before moving to Trenton where he dropped out of school to sell crack on the streets while pursuing a hip-hop career.