Find Out How Jay-Z Became Hip-Hop's First Billionaire on E!'s True Hollywood Story

By Allison Crist Nov 15, 2021 9:06 PMTags
Watch: How Jay-Z's Empire Went from Mediocre to Mainstream

Billionaires are getting the True Hollywood Story treatment.

Tonight's all-new episode of the E! series will delve into the lives and careers of Elon Musk, Jay-Z and Sara Blakely, who have several things in common: They all faced adversity and tragedy, which fueled their ambition to strive for the best.

Jay-Z is perhaps the most well-known of the three business magnates, but as this sneak peek clip proves, he had to face an uphill battle to achieve fame, let alone amass billions.

Michael Eric Dyson, author of Jay-Z: Made in America, breaks it all down by first taking us back to 1995, when the rapper "uses nearly a million dollars from street sales up and down the Eastern corridor—from, say, New York, you know, as far as Maryland—to fund Roc-A-Fella Records."

The label released Jay-Z's debut album, Reasonable Doubt, the next year. 

"It got to like 23 on the charts," Dyson recalled. "If you're an independent artist, that's good, but if you're Jay-Z, that's not."

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Added the author, "He had that desire, that hunger to do well."

As a result, Jay-Z quickly got to work on his next album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1.

The record garnered some critical acclaim, but true mainstream success didn't come until Jay-Z dropped Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life.

Neil Lupin/Redferns via Getty Images

The album contained one of the rapper's biggest hits to date, "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," which chronicled the gritty reality of his childhood in Brooklyn and sampled a popular tune from the Broadway musical Annie.

What came next? You'll have to tune in to tonight's all-new episode of E!'s True Hollywood Story to find out.