Jay Z: Free flowing genius
From Vevo

“I'd rather die enormous than live dormant” - Jay-Z, "Can I Live."

Jay-Z got his wish. He hasn't lived dormant, and he hit enormous a long time ago. Considered one of the greatest rappers in the history of the form, he was ranked in the top 100 artists of all time, in all genres, by Rolling Stone magazine. And as if that wasn't enough, he's one of the best-selling artists of all time, worldwide. Not to mention, he's collected 17 Grammies and counting.

How did Sean Carter, a boy from the Brooklyn projects, become Jay-Z, one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world? In two words, tenacity and talent.

“Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week” - Jay-Z, "Diamonds are Forever (Remix)."

His rags-to-riches story has been propelled by grit and fueled by genius. To say Jay-Z has "a way with words," would be like saying Michaelangelo "understands paint." His rhymes are sophisticated, and even when he's working on the fly, he's in complete control of his flow. Jay-Z has the ability to choose double-edged words that twist and layer his meanings mid-sentence. He can push a rhyme and an idea together in surprising ways ("Making short term goals when the weather folds…") that keep his listeners guessing.

“I'm not a businessman. I'm a business…maaaannn!” - Jay-Z, "Diamonds are Forever (Remix)."

Jay-Z is building an empire. Besides selling more than 75 million records (so far), Jay Z juggles a clothing line, a New York club, a portion of an NBA franchise, real estate projects, and a brand director role at Budweiser. His next project is a sports management firm.

With so many demands on his time, it's no surprise that Jay-Z is famous for declaring his retirement and then returning to his music career. His raps and tracks are the public face of an empire. So are his famous collaborations, like his genius mashup effort with Linkin Park in 2004, "Numb/Encore," or his work with Rick Rubin.

As he moves into his third decade in the industry, and a settled family life with wife Beyoncé and daughter Blue Ivy Carter; Jay-Z is maturing in ways that no one else can measure. His subject matter is hip-hop 101, but his perspective is that of a grown man. He doesn't try to come across as perpetually 23. He has a reputation as a stylish dresser, a savvy businessman, and most importantly, a serious musician.

“As if you didn't know, Jay's about gettin' dough, Spittin' flow like fine wines down your earlobe” - Jay-Z, "Cashmere Thoughts."