Last week, we broke down the first decade of Kanye West’s career, which featured Yeezy's development during his run of six platinum solo albums in ten years, an accomplishment only matched by Jay Z, Snoop Dogg and Nas. 'Ye’s big brother, Jay Z, dominated the late 1990s and early 2000s by releasing eight platinum solo albums in his first decade in the game (really, due to his short retirement, his first seven years), and hip-hop watched Hov evolve from his drug-running past in Reasonable Doubt to the multi-million dollar marketing of The Black Album.

Since then, Mr. Carter has released four more platinum solo albums (five if you count Watch The Throne), become a father to the beautiful Blue Ivy, reach billionaire couple status with his wife Beyoncé, and strike business deals that only he could have envisioned back in Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects. But before he became the $500 million man he is now, Jigga had to earn hip-hop’s throne, and he did so by releasing almost an album a year straight out of the gate. Join XXL for look back at the humble beginnings of Jay Z’s career. Can’t knock the hustle. —Christian Bonoan