Jay-Z is an American hip hop artist, entrepreneur, songwriter and record producer. The Brooklyn native has reigned supreme over hip hop for the last 20 years and is considered to be one of the most influential artists of our time.

Jay-Z has — strategically — been at the center of every conversation since his inception into hip hop back in 1988. From early controversies with LL Cool J, his close friendship with fellow Brooklyn rapper Biggie Smalls, the hardships surrounding “Reasonable Doubt”, to the rise of Roc-A-Fella Records as a powerhouse in Hip Hop.

Jay-Z is included on a growing list of hip hop moguls that are shaping the future for the next generation and providing inspiration for all people to connect with on a human level.

Most notably, inspiring the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, among other artists in the music industry. With the rise of Tidal as a music streaming service, Jay Z has developed his own ecosystem to thrive in and continues to redefine what is viewed as possible and impossible.

Over the years, Jay-Z has left behind a plethora of gems for musicians, entrepreneurs and politicians — alike — to be inspired by and further their journeys.

Along with awareness, Jay-Z has been one of hip hop’s main advocates in preaching the importance of learning from your failures. The rapper has continued to provide perspective into his own shortcomings and challenges by creating art through expression.

On a personal level, one major aspect that I have taken from Jay-Z is this:

It’s not always about making money — once you have money — It’s about managing your behavior and transactions that ultimately lead to more value and continual growth.

Below are ‘Jay-Z’s 96 Most Inspiring Quotes On Life, Business & Hip Hop’.

Jay-Z On Life

  1. “I’m hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. That’s what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King glowed. Muhammad Ali glows. I think that’s from being bright all the time, and trying to be brighter.” — Jay-Z
  2. “I collect art, and I drink wine… things that I like that I had never been exposed to. But I never said, ‘I’m going to buy art to impress this crowd.’ That’s just ridiculous to me. I don’t live my life like that, because how could you be happy with yourself?” — Jay-Z
  3. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” — Jay-Z
  4. “This is why we shouldn’t be afraid. There are two possibilities: One is that there’s more to life than the physical life, that our souls “will find an even higher place to dwell” when this life is over. If that’s true, there’s no reason to fear failure or death. The other possibility is that this life is all there is. And if that’s true, then we have to really live it — we have to take it for everything it has and “die enormous” instead of “living dormant,” as I said way back on “Can I Live.” Either way, fear is a waste of time.” — Jay-Z
  5. “When you’re growing up, your dad is your superhero. Once you’ve let yourself fall that in love with someone, once you put him on such a high pedestal and he lets you down, you never want to experience that pain again.” — Jay-Z
  6. “They talk. We live. Who cares what they say?” — Jay-Z
  7. “One of the reasons inequality gets so deep in this country is that everyone wants to be rich. That’s the American ideal. Poor people don’t like talking about poverty because even though they might live in the projects surrounded by other poor people and have, like, ten dollars in the bank, they don’t like to think of themselves as poor.” — Jay-Z
  8. “I’ve never looked at myself and said that I need to be a certain way to be around a certain sort of people. I’ve always wanted to stay true to myself, and I’ve managed to do that. People have to accept that.” — Jay-Z
  9. “The burden of poverty isn’t just that you don’t always have the things you need, it’s the feeling of being embarrassed every day of your life, and you’d do anything to lift that burden.” — Jay-Z
  10. “When the TV version of Annie came on, I was drawn to it. It was the struggle of this poor kid in this environment and how her life changed. It immediately resonated.” — Jay-Z
  11. “Everyone needs a chance to evolve.” — Jay-Z
  12. “We were kids without fathers, so we found our fathers on wax and on the streets and in history, and in a way, that was a gift. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves.” — Jay-Z
  13. “Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow.” — Jay-Z
  14. “Artists can have greater access to reality; they can see patterns and details and connections that other people, distracted by the blur of life, might miss. Just sharing that truth can be a very powerful thing.” — Jay-Z
  15. “A wise man told me don’t argue with fools. Cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who.” — Jay-Z
  16. “It’s hilarious a lot of times. You have a conversation with someone, and he’s like, ‘You speak so well!’ I’m like, ‘What do you mean? Do you understand that’s an insult?” — Jay-Z
  17. “Hip-hop has done so much for racial relations, and I don’t think it’s given the proper credit. It has changed America immensely. I’m going to make a very bold statement: Hip-hop has done more than any leader, politician, or anyone to improve race relations.” — Jay-Z
  18. “Don’t tell me what was said about me… Tell me why they were so comfortable to say it to you.” — Jay-Z
  19. “I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned, so it evens up for me.” — Jay-Z
  20. “Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week.” — Jay-Z
  21. “When you’re truly in love. You will never have anything to hide.” — Jay-Z
  22. “Life is a gift, love opens it up.” — Jay-Z
  23. “As kids we didn’t complain about being poor; we talked about how rich we were going to be and made moves to get the lifestyle we aspired to by any means we could. And as soon as we had a little money, we were eager to show it.” — Jay-Z
  24. “I’m like a dog. I never speak, but I understand.” — Jay-Z
  25. “I’m a mirror. If you’re cool with me, I’m cool with you, and the exchange starts. What you see is what you reflect. If you don’t like what you see, then you’ve done something. If I’m standoffish, that’s because you are.” — Jay-Z
  26. “It’s always been most important for me to figure out “my space” rather than trying to check out what everyone else is up to, minute by minute. Technology is making it easier to connect to other people, but maybe harder to keep connected to yourself — and that’s essential for any artist, I think.” — Jay-Z
  27. “Remind yourself, nobody’s built like you. You design yourself.” — Jay-Z
  28. “Belief in oneself and knowing who you are, I mean, that’s the foundation for everything great.” — Jay-Z
  29. “Jealousy is a weak emotion.” — Jay-Z
  30. “But that’s a good match for the way I’ve always approached life. I’ve always believed in motion and action, in following connections wherever they take me, and in not getting entrenched. My life has been more poetry than prose, more about unpredictable leaps and links than simple steady movement, or worse, stagnation. It’s allowed me to stay open to the next thing without feeling held back by a preconceived notion of what I’m supposed to be doing next. Stories have ups and downs and moments of development followed by moments of climax; the storyteller has to keep it all together, which is an incredible skill. But poetry is all climax, every word and line pops with the same energy as the whole; even the spaces between the words can feel charged with potential energy. It fits my style to rhyme with high stakes riding on every word and to fill every pause with pressure and possibility. And maybe I just have ADD, but I also like my rhymes to stay loose enough to follow whatever ideas hijack my train of thought, just like I like my mind to stay loose enough to absorb everything around me.” — Jay-Z
  31. “You can want success all you want. But to get it, you can’t falter. You can’t slip, you can’t sleep, one eye open, for real, and forever.” — Jay-Z
  32. “I believe everybody in the world is born with genius-level talent. Apply yourself to whatever you’re genius at and you can do anything in the world.” — Jay-Z

Jay-Z on Business

  1. “Boxing is a glorious sport to watch and boxers are incredible, heroic athletes, but it’s also, to be honest, a stupid game to play. Even the winners can end up with crippling brain damage. In a lot of ways, hustling is the same. But you learn something special from playing the most difficult games, the games where winning is close to impossible and losing is catastrophic: You learn how to compete as if your life depended on it. That’s the lesson I brought with me to the so-called “legitimate” world.” — Jay-Z
  2. “A man who doesn’t take care of his family, can’t be rich.” — Jay-Z
  3. “I was forced to be an artist and a CEO from the beginning, so I was forced to be like a businessman because when I was trying to get a record deal, it was so hard to get a record deal on my own that it was either give up or create my own company.” — Jay-Z
  4. “I believe you can speak things into existence.” — Jay-Z
  5. “Truth is you don’t need some external demon to take control of you to turn you into a raging, money-obsessed sociopath, you only need to let loose the demons you already have inside of you.” — Jay-Z
  6. “I’m far from being god, but I work god damn hard.” — Jay-Z
  7. “Successful people have a bigger fear of failure than people who’ve never done anything because if you haven’t been successful, then you don’t know how it feels to lose it all.” — Jay-Z
  8. “My brands are an extension of me. They’re close to me. It’s not like running GM, where there’s no emotional attachment.” — Jay-Z
  9. “Growing up, politics never trickled down to the areas we come from. But people from Obama’s camp, and Obama himself, reached out to me and asked for my help on the campaign. We’ve sat and had dinner, and we’ve spoken on the phone. He’s a very sharp guy. Very charming. Very cool.” — Jay-Z
  10. “My thing is related to who I am as a person. The clothes are an extension of me. The music is an extension of me. All my businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I’m feeling at the time, whatever direction I’m heading in. And hopefully, everyone follows.” — Jay-Z
  11. “Those who are successful overcome their fears and take action. Those who aren’t submit to their fears and live with regrets.” — Jay-Z
  12. “I believe excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over.” — Jay-Z
  13. “No matter where you go you are what you are player and you can try to change but that’s just the top layer man you was who you was before you got here” — Jay-Z
  14. “Money and power don’t change you, they just further expose your true self.” — Jay-Z
  15. “I’m a hustler baby; I sell water to a well.” — Jay-Z
  16. “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama’s running so we all can fly.” — Jay-Z
  17. “Rap has been a path between cultures in the best tradition of popular music.” — Jay-Z
  18. “Rappers, as a class, are not engaged in anything criminal. They’re musicians. Some rappers and friends of rappers commit crimes. Some bus drivers commit crimes. Some accountants commit crimes. But there aren’t task forces devoted to bus drivers or accountants. Bus drivers don’t have to work under the preemptive suspicion of law enforcement. The difference is obvious, of course: Rappers are young black men telling stories that the police, among others, don’t want to hear. Rappers tend to come from places where police are accustomed to treating everybody like a suspect. The general style of rappers is offensive to a lot of people. But being offensive is not a crime, at least not one that’s on the books. The fact that law enforcement treats rap like organized crime tells you a lot about just how deeply rap offends some people — they’d love for rap itself to be a crime, but until they get that law passed, they come after us however they can.” — Jay-Z
  19. “If people don’t hate you, you’re probably not doing very big things.” — Jay-Z
  20. “In the end, you can’t censor the truth, especially when it comes packaged in hot music.” — Jay-Z
  21. “All I got is dreams. Nobody else believes. Nobody else can see. Nobody else but me.” — Jay-Z
  22. “Do me a favor. Don’t do me no favors. I handle mine.” — Jay-Z
  23. “The music is meant to be provocative — which doesn’t mean it’s necessarily obnoxious, but it is (mostly) confrontational, and more than that, it’s dense with multiple meanings. Great rap should have all kinds of unresolved layers that you don’t necessarily figure out the first time you listen to it. Instead it plants dissonance in your head. You can enjoy a song that knocks in the club or has witty punch lines the first time you hear it. But great rap retains mystery. It leaves sh-t rattling around in your head that won’t make sense till the fifth or sixth time through. It challenges you.” — Jay-Z
  24. “I sell ice in winter, I sell fire in hell.” — Jay-Z
  25. “Everyone who makes music is a good collaborator at their foundation because in order to make music, you have to connect to it in a way that other people can’t.” — Jay-Z
  26. “Don’t ever go with the flow. Be the flow.” — Jay-Z
  27. “The genius thing we did was, we didn’t give up.” — Jay-Z
  28. “On the night he died — he was twenty-seven — Basquiat had been planning to see a Run-DMC show. When people asked him what his art was about, he’d hit them with the same three words: “Royalty, heroism, and the streets.” — Jay-Z
  29. “When it comes to signing up new talent, that’s what I’m looking for — not just someone who has the skill, but someone built for this life. Someone who has the work ethic, the drive. The gift that Jordan had wasn’t just that he was willing to do the work, but he loved doing it, because he could feel himself getting stronger, ready for anything. He left the game and came back and worked just as hard as he did when he started. He came into the game as Rookie of the Year, and he finished the last playoff game of his career with a shot that won the Bulls their sixth championship. THAT’S THE KIND OF CONSISTENCY THAT YOU CAN ONLY GET BY ADDING DEAD-SERIOUS DISCIPLINE TO WHATEVER TALENT YOU HAVE.” — Jay-Z
  30. “This communist talk is so confusing” — Jay-Z
  31. “Lyor Cohen, who I consider my mentor, once told me something that he was told by a rabbi about the eight degrees of giving in Judaism. The seventh degree is giving anonymously, so you don’t know who you’re giving to, and the person on the receiving end doesn’t know who gave. The value of that is that the person receiving doesn’t have to feel some kind of obligation to the giver and the person giving isn’t doing it with an ulterior motive. It’s a way of putting the giver and receiver on the same level. It’s a tough ideal to reach out for, but it does take away some of the patronizing and showboating that can go on with philanthropy in a capitalist system. The highest level of giving, the eight, is giving in a way that makes the receiver self-sufficient.” — Jay-Z
  32. “May the best of your today’s be the worst of your tomorrow’s” — Jay-Z

Jay-Z on Hip Hop

  1. “Hip-hop is more about attaining wealth. People respect success. They respect big. They don’t even have to like your music. If you’re big enough, people are drawn to you.” — Jay-Z
  2. “Hip-hop gave a generation a common ground that didn’t require either race to lose anything; everyone gained.” — Jay-Z
  3. “You have to take your craft seriously every day.” — Jay-Z
  4. “As kids we didn’t complain about being poor; we talked about how rich we were going to be and made moves to get the lifestyle we aspired to by any means we could. And as soon as we had a little money, we were eager to show it.” — Jay-Z
  5. “That’s why this generation is the least racist generation ever. You see it all the time. Go to any club. People are intermingling, hanging out, having fun, enjoying the same music. Hip-hop is not just in the Bronx anymore. It’s worldwide. Everywhere you go, people are listening to hip-hop and partying together. Hip-hop has done that.” — Jay-Z
  6. “You make your first album, you make some money, and you feel like you still have to show face, like ‘I still go to the projects.’ I’m like, why? Your job is to inspire people from your neighborhood to get out. You grew up there. What makes you think it’s so cool?” — Jay-Z
  7. “I would run into the corner store, the bodega, and just grab a paper bag or buy juice — anything just to get a paper bag. And I’d write the words on the paper bag and stuff these ideas in my pocket until I got back. Then I would transfer them into the notebook.” — Jay-Z
  8. “New York has a thousand universes in it that don’t always connect but we do all walk the same streets, hear the same sirens, ride the same subways, see the same headlines in the Post, read the same writings on the walls. That shared landscape gets inside of all of us and, in some small way, unites us, makes us think we know each other even when we don’t.” — Jay-Z
  9. “You could name practically any problem in the hood and there’d be a rap song for you.” — Jay-Z
  10. “By the time I got to record my first album, I was 26, I didn’t need pen or paper — my memory had been trained just to listen to a song, think of the words, and lay them to tape.” — Jay-Z
  11. “I couldn’t even think about wanting to be something else; I wouldn’t let myself visualize another life. But I wrote because I couldn’t stop. It was a release, a mental exercise, a way of keeping sane.” — Jay-Z
  12. “We change people through conversation, not through censorship.” — Jay-Z
  13. “Hip-hop is a perfect mix between poetry and boxing.” — Jay-Z
  14. “Racism is taught in the home. We agree on that? Well, it’s very hard to teach racism to a teenager who’s listening to rap music and who idolizes, say, Snoop Dogg. It’s hard to say, ‘That guy is less than you.’ The kid is like, ‘I like that guy, he’s cool. How is he less than me?” — Jay-Z
  15. “Leave a mark they can’t erase, neither space nor time.” — Jay-Z
  16. “I grew up in Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, and my mom and pop had an extensive record collection, so Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and all of those sounds and souls of Motown filled the house.” — Jay-Z
  17. “Wherever I go, I bring the culture with me, so that they can understand that it’s attainable. I didn’t do it any other way than through hip-hop.” — Jay-Z
  18. “If ya’ll can’t already see, I ain’t worried about ya’ll, ’cause I’m already me.”— Jay-Z
  19. “I have inherited two of the most important brands in hip-hop, Def Jam and Roc-A-Fella. Reid and Universal Music Group have given me the opportunity to manage the companies I have contributed to my whole career. I feel this is a giant step for me and the entire artist community.” — Jay-Z
  20. “People look at you strange, say you changed. Like you worked that hard to stay the same.” — Jay-Z
  21. “99 Problems is almost a deliberate provocation to simpleminded listeners. If that sounds crazy, you have to understand: Being misunderstood is almost a badge of honor in rap. Growing up as a black kid from the projects, you can spend your whole life being misunderstood, followed around department stores, looked at funny, accused of crimes you didn’t commit, accused of motivations you don’t have, dehumanized — until you realize, one day, it’s not about you. It’s the perceptions people had long before you even walked onto the scene. The joke’s on them because they’re really just fighting phantoms of their own creation. Once you realize that, things get interesting. It’s like when we were kids. You’d start bopping hard and throwing the ice grill on when you step into Macy’s and laugh to yourself when security guards got nervous and started shadowing you. You might have a knot of cash in your pocket, but you boost something anyway, just for the sport of it. F-ck ’em. Sometimes the mask is to hide and sometimes it’s to play at being something you’re not so you can watch the reactions of people who believe the mask is real. Because that’s when they reveal themselves. So many people can’t see that every great rapper is a not just a documentarian, but a trickster — that every great rapper has a little bit of Chuck and a little bit of Flav in them — but that’s not our problem, it’s their failure: the failure, or unwillingness, to treat rap like art, instead of acting like it’s a bunch of ni — s reading out of their diaries. Art elevates and refines and transforms experience. And sometimes it just f-cks with you for the fun of it.” — Jay-Z
  22. “The average rap life is two or three albums. You’re lucky to get to your second album in rap!” — Jay-Z
  23. “Kurt Cobain OD’d on heroin before committing suicide, but he also OD’d on fame. Cobain was like Basquiat: They both wanted to be famous, and were brilliant enough to make it happen. But then what? Drug addicts kill themselves trying to get that feeling they got from their first high, looking for an experience they’ll never get again. In his suicide note, Cobain asked himself, “Why don’t you just enjoy it?” and then answered, “I don’t know!” It’s amazing how much of a mindf-ck success can be.” — Jay-Z
  24. “We change people through conversation, not through censorship.” — Jay-Z
  25. “When you step outside of school and have to teach yourself about life, you develop a different relationship to information. I’ve never been a purely linear thinker. You can see it in my rhymes. My mind is always jumping around, restless, making connections, mixing and matching ideas, rather than marching in a straight line. That’s why I’m always stressing focus. My thoughts chase each other from room to room in my head if I let them, so sometimes I have to slow myself down.” — Jay-Z
  26. “Everything evens up, you just wait. Even a garbage can gets a steak. You are not even a garbage can, you have faith!” — Jay-Z
  27. “They say a midget standing on a giant’s shoulders can see much further than the giant. So I got the whole rap world on my shoulders, they trying to see further than I am.” — Jay-Z
  28. “We hustle out of a sense of hopelessness. Sort of a desperation. Through that desperation, we become addicted. But we feel we have nothing to lose. So we offer our lives. What do you bring to the table?” — Jay-Z
  29. “Rap for me is like making movies, telling stories, and getting the emotions of the songs through in just as deep a way. And I grew up in rap and movies the same way.” — Jay-Z
  30. “If the beat is time, flow is what we do with that time, how we live through it. The beat is everywhere, but every life has to find its own flow.” — Jay-Z
  31. “A poet’s mission is to make words do more work than they normally do, to make them work on more than one level.” — Jay-Z
  32. “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. People sometimes say that now I’m so far away from that life — now that I’ve got businesses and Grammys and magazine covers — that I have no right to rap about it. But how distant is the story of your own life ever going to be? The feelings I had during that part of my life were burned into me like a brand. It was life during wartime.” — Jay-Z

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Entrepreneur based in Minneapolis, MN. I write about Music, Inspiration, Economics & Business. Website: 227-mn.com & Newsletter: http://ow.ly/nBJJ50AbYAF

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