From drug dealer to a superstar rapper to a successful entrepreneur to social advocate. That’s the transformation Jay-Z has gone through in his life, and what a transformation that is.
We especially admire the work he is doing in the criminal justice reform arena.
Along the way, Jay-Z has learned invaluable lessons. Lucky for us, he has passed on some of this wisdom through his music and interviews.
Here are some Jay-Z quotes that inspire, some of them are about financial success, some of them about success in other aspects of our lives.
1. “You can want success all you want, but to get it, you can’t falter. You can’t slip, you can’t sleep. One eye open, for real, and forever.”
2. “I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of not trying.”
3. “People look at you strange, say you changed. Like you worked that hard to stay the same.”
4. “We change people through conversation, not through censorship.”
5. “Money and power don’t change you, they just further expose your true self.”
6. “Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it but to try to understand it and use it as a foundation to grow.”
7. “I believe everyone in the world is born with genius-level talent. Apply yourself to whatever you’re genius at, and you can do anything in the world.”
8. “Life is all there is. And if that’s true, then we have to really live it — we have to take it for everything it has and “die enormous” instead of “living dormant.”
9. “The more society treats drug addiction as a crime, the more money drug dealers will make “relieving” the suffering of the addicts.”
10. “I will not lose, for even in defeat, there’s a valuable lesson learned, so it evens up for me.”
11.”If the beat is time, flow is what we do with that time, how we live through it. The beat is everywhere, but every life has to find its own flow.”
12. “Everyday hit every wave like I’m Hawaiian. I don’t surf the net, no I’ve never been on MySpace, too busy letting my voice vibrate, carving out my space in this world.”
13. “All I got is dreams. Nobody else believes. Nobody else can see. Nobody else but me.”
14. “I believe you can speak things into existence.”
15. “Some said ‘how’d you fly?’ I said from not being afraid of trying to fly”
16. “May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows.”
17. “Everyone needs a chance to evolve.”
18. “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!”
19. “The responsibility is to keep pushing it forward, and not relying on the same old gimmicks. You have to push it forward.”
20. “Do things that are true to you. Most things that I’m involved with is being creative and things that I like. Get involved with things that you love and be sure to have a standard and integrity with what you’re doing.”
21. “Truth is you don’t need some external demon to take control of you to turn you into a raging, money-obsessed sociopath, you only need to let loose the demons you already have inside of you.”
22. “A wise man told me don’t argue with fools. Cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who.”
23. “There are 2 possibilities: 1 is that there’s more to life than the physical life, that our souls ‘will find an even higher place to dwell’ when this life is over. If that’s true, there’s no reason to fear failure or death. The other possibility is that this life is all there is. And if that’s true, then we have to really live it- we have to take it for everything it has and ‘die enormous’ instead of ‘living dormant’, as I said way back on ‘can I live’. Either way, fear is a waste of time”.
24. “I’ve never looked at myself and said that I need to be a certain way to be around a certain sort of people. I’ve always wanted to stay true to myself, and I’ve managed to do that. People have to accept that. I collect art, and I drink wine… Things that I like that I had never been exposed to. But I never said ‘I’m going to buy art to impress this crowd’. That’s just ridiculous to me. I don’t live my life like that, because how could you be happy with yourself?”
25. “A wise man once told me luck isn’t some mystical energy that dances around the universe randomly bestowing people with satisfaction and joy, you create your own luck.”
26. “The truth about talent is first, that it’s God Given. When you want to unleash that talent, your mind lets it go. Because it’s there. You have to have that belief that when you draw from that well of talent that it’s going to be there.” 35. You have to find your genius level talent, and then to apply it in a way that supports that genius level talent.
27. “The record company would be my bridge to those people I could connect with, but they didn’t give me that bridge, so it was a very important part of my career that we didn’t give up right there. That belief in myself, and belief that I had something to offer, so we built our own bridge, and I started my own record company.”
28. “Only two things can get you through this: that’s patience and persistence.”
29. “I couldn’t even think about wanting to be something else: I wouldn’t let myself visualize another life. But I wrote because I couldn’t stop. It was a release, a mental exercise, a way of keeping sane.”
30. “Whenever inspiration won’t find you, you have to find it.”
31. “I have a lot of happiness, but that doesn’t mean that the two (money and happiness) equate to each other… they’re not tied to each other…”
32. “Life is about balance, you have to have time for work and time for play. If you don’t allow these two things to co-exist you have an imbalance.”
33. “The genius thing that we did was we didn’t give up, we didn’t say ‘Because these guys…’ we used that ‘What do they know’ approach, and didn’t give up.”
34. “Most people that were successful growing up where I was from never came back. So there was never a dialogue on ‘how did you do it’ ‘what happened’ there was no mentoring program… no going back teaching a person a trade or what you do… so that’s why I figured I’d started school because education is the answer.”
35. “Then ask: ‘Why is life worth livin’?’ Is it to gun for the sh*t that you want? To receive is great, but I lust givin’”
36. “The thing that distinguished (Michael) Jordan wasn’t his talent, but his discipline, his laser-like commitment to excellence. That’s something I always respect, especially in people who have great natural talents already.”
37. “It’s always been most important for me to figure out ‘my space’ rather than trying to check out what everyone else is up to, minute by minute. Technology is making it easier to connect to other people, but maybe harder to keep connected to yourself – and that’s essential for any artists, I think.”
38. “When you step outside of school and have to teach yourself about life, you develop a different relationship to information. I’ve never been a purely linear thinker. You can see it in my rhymes. My mind is always jumping around, restless, making connections, mixing and matching ideas, rather than marching in a straight line. That’s why I’m always stressing focus.”
39. “I’m hungry for knowledge. The whole thing is to learn every day, to get brighter and brighter. That’s what this world is about. You look at someone like Gandhi, and he glowed. Martin Luther King glowed. Muhammad Ali glows. I think that’s from being bright all the time, and trying to be brighter.”
40. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
41. “As kids, we didn’t complain about being poor; we talked about how rich we were going to be and made moves to get the lifestyle we aspired to by any means we could.”
42. “If people don’t hate you, you’re probably not doing very big things.”
43. “That can’t be our goal, to get money and show it on the Internet. That’s some corny shit. You can do it. I’ve been saying it. ‘Chains is cool to cop, but more important is lawyer fees.’ That’s my first album. I’ve always been trying to give people game. Here, learn from my experiences.”
44. “I’m sure when we started Roc Nation, everyone said (to join) Universal or Def Jam. We built the brand. We are culture. Nothing moves without us. We just continue to give it away. And it’s cool, we can still participate. Nike still works with Jordan. It’s just the nature of our relationship has to change.”
45. “You can pay for school but you can’t buy class.”
46. “I was forced to be an artist and a CEO from the beginning, so I was forced to be like a businessman because when I was trying to get a record deal, it was so hard to get a record deal on my own that it was either give up or create my own company.”
47. “Leave a mark they can’t erase, neither space nor time.”
48. “Successful people have a bigger fear of failure than people who’ve never done anything because if you haven’t been successful, then you don’t know how it feels to lose it all.”
49. “Remind yourself, nobody’s built like you. You design yourself.”
50. “Excellence is being able to perform at a high level over and over again. You can hit a half-court shot once. That’s just the luck of the draw. If you consistently do it…that’s excellence.”
51. “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run. Obama’s running so we all can fly.”
52. “With education comes refinement.”
53. “Hip-hop has done so much for racial relations, and I don’t think it’s given the proper credit. It has changed America immensely. I’m going to make a very bold statement: Hip-hop has done more than any leader, politician, or anyone to improve race relations.”
Against all odds, Jay-Z has become a cultural icon and a powerful force for change.
What’s your favorite Jay-Z quote?