Arts & Entertainment

Brooklyn exhibit highlights multiple facets of hip-hop legend Jay-Z

By Nora Quintanilla

New York, Aug 9 (EFE).- Jay-Z is known all over the world as one of the most successful hip-hop artists of all time.

But the status this billionaire rapper, record producer and entrepreneur enjoys in his native Brooklyn rises to another level entirely.

Indeed, in that New York City borough, he can even inspire pilgrimages to the most unlikely of places: a library.

The Brooklyn Public Library’s central branch has been busier than ever since the recording artist’s lyrics began covering that building’s limestone facade in mid-July to accompany the launch of “The Book of HOV,” an installation on the life and work of the 53-year-old Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.

That institution is home to the world’s largest collection of works on Brooklyn’s history, and that history “can’t be told without Jay-Z,” spokeswoman Fritzi Bodenheimer told Efe.

She said some 100,000 people, including avid fans who have traveled from other parts of the US expressly for that purpose, have thus far visited the exhibit.

One of the attractions of the installation, which opened on July 14 and will run until October, are 13 limited-edition library cards featuring art from all of Jay-Z’s solo albums.

Each of the different cards, which are available to anyone who lives, works or pays taxes in New York state, can be obtained at around four or five of the 66 branches of the Brooklyn Public Library system.

Additionally, one complete set of metallic library cards, alongside a bookmark and a leather case, will be sold by Christie’s in an online auction that begins on Thursday with a starting price of $100.

Created by Jay-Z’s entertainment conglomerate, Roc Nation, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the installation gets its name from one of the recording artist’s nicknames – HOV.

That moniker itself is a play on Jay-Hova, or Jehovah, which early admirers of Jay-Z’s prodigious rapping talent reportedly called him when witnessing his seemingly miraculous ability to improvise lyrics.


In the main lobby, a sign reading “Marcy Houses” refers to the origin of Jay-Z’s rags-to-riches journey – a public housing project in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.

The installation proceeds to take visitors on a tour of visuals, audio stories and physical artifacts from 25 years of his life and charts his rise from humble beginnings to a 24-time Grammy Award-winning artist and business mogul.

Highlights of the exhibit include a replica of Baseline Studios, Jay-Z’s home base in Manhattan and the place where he recorded iconic albums like “The Dynasty: Roc La Familia,” “The Blueprint” and “The Black Album.”

Many of his trophies also are on display in the exhibit, as are photos of him with leading figures in business and investing, sports, music and politics, including Barack Obama and Warren Buffett.


Beyond his success as an artist and his accumulation of massive wealth through timely investments in companies like Uber, the growth of Roc Nation and ventures in champagne and luxury watches, Jay-Z also has been a philanthropist and social justice activist.

Among the causes to which he has devoted time and resources are efforts to advance policing and prison reform, promote better educational opportunities for Black youth and increase racial diversity in the workplace.

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