As USA TODAY, the Nation's No. 1 Newspaper, puts it, "anyone who has followed Jay-Z's career knows that the superstar born Shawn Corey Carter has long defied anyone who tried to pigeonhole him." He left behind the dangerous life of a drug dealer and became one of the biggest names in music. He then achieved success as a businessman, an activist, and an author, while staying true to the spirit of hip-hop. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, Jay-Z grew up in a household full of music lovers. After hearing people rap for the first time, he also discovered the creative fire within himself. He began to make up rhymes nonstop-and made his way from financial hardship to the throne of a music empire.