Switching up the formula isn’t so bad after all — just ask Jay-Z.

In 1996, Jay-Z made his debut in the record industry with his critically acclaimed album “Reasonable Doubt.” 

The move was made under the Roc-A-Fella Records imprint, which was formed between the emcee, whose given name is Shawn Carter, and his former business partner Dame Dash.

The body of work went on to sell more than 1 million copies in the United States and, as previously reported by AfroTech, has since become the inspiration for non-fungible token (NFT) collections, television shows, and more.

His Debut To The World

However, it is worth noting that although “Reasonable Doubt” is beloved by many, it was commercially slept on during its release in the late 1990s.

“Though the first Roc-a-Fella release benefited from Mary J. Blige and Notorious B.I.G. features, most songs were too slow, smart, or violent for radio,” Boardroom reports.

The outlet also confirmed that one single from the album was partly responsible for taking Jay-Z to greater heights — “Ain’t No…” featuring a 17-year-old Foxy Brown.


The Movie Placement That Took Him To The Next Level

It was a cinematic placement that landed the song a place in Hip-Hop history forever.

The film in question: “The Nutty Professor.”

In late June 1996, the cult classic was released in theaters, raking in a hefty estimated $274 million at the box office. The film’s initial budget was $54 million, according to Forbes.

And while the movie had a huge impact on the career of its lead — renowned comedian Eddie Murphy — the same went for Jay-Z.

Thanks to a deal with Def Jam’s Russell Simmons, the Brooklyn native soon found his way onto the soundtrack for the film. The soundtrack, which went platinum, was distributed by Def Jam.

Per Boardroom, the move quickly propelled Jay-Z into the mainstream world, and he “was now in regular rotation on music video countdown shows even if he was an independent and relatively underground artist.”

Learning The Business

“We learned about the business through that record,” Jay-Z recalled during an interview with MTV News. “We had a little of bargaining power. Our lack of knowledge of the business was made up because we had a hit record. A hit record helps you out, it makes you smarter than you really are.”

Taking It By Storm

While he used music as a way to escape a humble upbringing in Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects, Jay-Z has proven that he is truly about his business, man.

As previously reported by AfroTech, he is considered Hip-Hop’s first billionaire with an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion.

From an early investment in Uber to dominating the streetwear space with Roc-A-Wear and more, Jay-Z is the epitome of using his business wits to achieve success.

He sold his streaming service, TIDAL, for a whopping $300 million in 2021 and continues to make moves with his Marcy Venture Partners.

The Family Legacy

Finally, but certainly, not least, he is also the husband to “the hottest chick in the game.”

His wife, Beyoncé, is a superstar in her own right. With her estimated net worth of $500 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, they are among the wealthiest celebrity couples in the world.

Their children, Blue Ivy, Sir, and Rumi Carter are also considered Hip-Hop royalty.