Dear Jay Z

Dear Jay Z,

Thanks for putting out an album every year I was a teenager.

I want to let you know that the foundation of my blueprint has a layer of Shawn Corey Carter in it.

You didn’t just teach me what a self-made person was, you gave the process of becoming a self-made person an emotionality that gave me a better point-of-view of myself. I didn’t have to move bricks in Marcy to feel supported by your music. I could use the fervor behind your words as motivation to escape Mechanicsville, Iowa through trade schools.

The day I bought a CD at Sam Goody with you standing by a car was the day I discovered there was a positive channel for my resourcefulness. My after school job, my consumer math class, and the section on selling in my business textbook suddenly meant more.

I knew on some level that your presence was a gift. The fact you were alive and engaged in all these ventures represented that anyone could make more of themselves. Fuck Harvard. Fuck Stanford. I’ll outwork my privileged peers by making more with whatever I have. It doesn’t matter if I’m from Marcy or Mechanicsville, I’m going to beat you—I’m going to win using the inner resources I was given. That’s what I got from Jay Z music.

I was scared of never getting this out of me. I was scared of drunk white guys beating me down psychologically—of them filling my head with the garbage of their low self-worth. They tried, but I had Volume 3. And I still might hunt down those critics for what they said about it.

I’d like to let your mom know that the experiences that caused her to say, “Jay” after “you were out the door” led to projects that would lay out a musical how-to for going your own path.

Dear Gloria Carter,

Thank you for raising such a resourceful and creative son! I can’t pretend to understand all the experiences you’ve gone through, but the events from Jay’s early life—events that no doubt gave you worrisome nights—transformed to meaningful creative projects that will change lives forever.

Your son’s music gave my life structure at a time when a life-ruining event or habit was right around the corner.

The energy and love you poured into being a mother has given millions of people a self-made guide via your talented son and his life’s work.

Thank you for the countless things you’ve done to help bring this creative energy to life.


Jay, thank you for hanging in there when Reasonable Doubt didn’t go triple. Your music made me realize there was another path.

Your fan,


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