Across his five decades on this earth, Jay-Z has adopted many descriptors. And, no, we're not just talking about his given name, Shawn Carter. 

Rapper, the one that started it all, with the release of his debut, Reasonable Doubt, an album that required him to create his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records to get it on the shelves. Charting on the Billboard 200 (it would later be named as one of Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time"), the 1996 disc would go multi-platinum, a milestone that's pretty much standard for the 12 solo studio albums he's produced since. 

There's also Grammy winner (22 times over), president of Def Jam Recordings, founder of Roc Nation and billionaire, thanks to his stakes in companies like Armand de Brignac champagne, Tidal and Uber, his real estate and, of course, the publishing rights to his 13 number one albums. 

Not to mention father to 7-year-old Blue Ivy and 2-year-old twins Rumi and Sir—and, of course, Mr. Beyoncé Knowles, the power couple's marriage currently wrapping up its twelfth year. And he came thisclose to becoming Sir Jay Z when Paul McCartney knighted him Sir Hova of Brooklyn (an honor Queen Elizabeth II can officially only bestow on British citizens.) 

Beyonce, Jay-Z

But it's the simple label of success story he's likely most proud of. "I want to represent hip-hop culture positively," he surmised to Oprah Winfrey in 2009. "No one in my family is wanting for a meal right now, so that part is done. Rap is what took me out of my situation, and now I must care for it. I have to leave it as I found it—or better—for the next generation of kids. Then maybe they can change their situation like I did." 

Mega-producer and frequent collaborator Swizz Beatz sees him as a "blueprint for our culture," he told Forbes this summer. "A guy that looks like us, sounds like us, loves us, made it to something that we always felt that was above us. If he's a billionaire now, imagine what he's about to be. Because he's only just starting." 

The broad strokes of the Brooklyn native's rags to unfathomable riches story are well-known and documented: Despite an aptitude for language, he never finished high school, making it as a drug dealer long before he began his journey to music legend by selling albums out of his car. 

But there's so much more enthralling history than can be covered in a soundbite. Which is what happens when you jam pack a lot of living into 50 years—nearly half of it taking place in the public eye. In honor of the rapper-producer-record exec-entrepreneur's milestone birthday, here are 50 truly fascinating tidbits from a life well lived. 

Jay-Z, Jay Z,  Grammy Winners

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Jay-Z, Beyonce Knowles

James Devaney/GC Images

Jay-Z, Concert

Neil Lupin/Redferns via Getty Images

Damon Dash, Jay-Z

Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Jay-Z, Jimmy Kimmel Live

Randy Holmes/ABC

Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, 2018 Grammy Awards, Candids

Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS

Beyonce, Jay-Z, On the Run II tour

Raven Varona/Parkwood/PictureGroup

Jay-Z, On the Run II Tour

Larry Busacca/PW18/Getty Images for Parkwood Entertainment

Jay-Z, NAACP Image Awards

TV One

Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, Grammys, Performance

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

JAY-Z, Rihanna, Kevin Hart

Seth Browarnik/

Beyonce,Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, Destiny's Child, Superbowl

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Juan Perez, Fat Joe, Jay-Z

Shareif Ziyadat

Jay-Z, Gloria Carter

Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Beyonce, Jay-Z

Beyonce, Jay-Z, Blue Ivy Carter, Sir Carter, Rumi Carter

Beyonce, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Jay-Z, Something In the Water Festival 2019

Brian Ach/Getty Images for Something in the Water

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