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A Visual Breakdown: Jay-Z Vs. Pablo Picasso


As Jay-Z has made the slow and steady transition from mere hip-hop icon to cultural overlord, he’s warmly embraced the art world and its many stars. Just last week, he shot a music video in a Chelsea gallery with help from performance artist Marina Abramovich and took a photo with RIAA execs in front of a Jean-Michel Basquiat piece. Dude is high-end. Another sign that he’s looking toward art icons (living and dead) are the references on his new album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. But among all the expected Basquiats and Warhols are shout-outs for possibly the most well-known artist of the 20th century, Spanish-born Pablo Picasso. Not only does Jay mention Pablo’s name several times on the album, he even dedicates a song to him, with the confident and menacing “Picasso Baby.” All the shout-outs got us thinking about Pablo and Jay, so we decided to take a look at the lives of both icons and compile a visual side-by-side comparison of their history. Surprisingly, they’re not so different after all.

Birth Name

Shawn Corey Carter

Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruíz y Picasso

Neighborhood Growing Up 

Marcy Houses, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York

A Coruña, Galicia, Spain

Artistic Influences The Notorious B.I.G., Rakim, Big Daddy Kane

Paul Cezanne, Edvard Munch, Diego Velazquez

Age At Release Of First Major Work 26 (1996’s Reasonable Doubt) 26 (1907’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon)
Dark Times The Def Jam Years The Blue Period
Most Notable Work The Blueprint Guernica 
Famous Spouse(s) Beyonce Knowles

Olga Khokhlova, Jacqueline Roque

Co-Founded The Throne (with Kanye West) Cubism (with George Braque)
Children  Blue Ivy Paulo, Maya, Claude, Paloma

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