It is Jay-Z's competitive spirit that has made him one of the best rappers of all time as well as one of hip-hop's most successful businesspeople. However, when it comes to his charitable efforts, Hov is driven by something very different: his desire to share his wealth of experience with the world.
"You've been blessed. Your talent has taken you to places you never thought you would see. I just think as a compassionate human being, you want people to see," Jay told MTV News before describing the first time he saw Italy.
Hov, who was amazed with his own early travels abroad, called an old friend and urged him to "pack a bag" because he simple had to see Italy.
On December 8, the God MC announced that he would be playing two benefit shows at New York's Carnegie Hall, the proceeds from which will go to the United Way of New York City and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation. The money raised will help put low-income NYC students in a position to attend college. Back in September, the Shawn Carter Foundation threw a fundraising carnival on the west side of Manhattan where celebrity guests like New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and pitcher C.C. Sabathia bought high-priced tickets to help Hov's cause.
All the Watch the Throne MC wants to do is create an opportunity. To help illustrate his interest in helping to educate young people, Jay quoted a line from the final scene of the 1993 Robert De Niro film "A Bronx Tale": "The saddest thing in life is wasted talent."
"That really bothers me, someone who really applies themselves and wants to go and they can't further their education because of their situation, because of money or because they have to stay in the house to watch their [siblings]," Jay told MTV News. "Something about that really bothers me."
Jay and his mother, Gloria Carter, started the Shawn Carter foundation in 2002 to help those facing socioeconomic difficulties further their education at institutions of higher learning. The foundation started with one student earning a full ride through college and grew to offer 50 scholarships to students in 50 different states annually. To date, more than 750 students have been awarded scholarships totaling in excess of $1.3 million.
Tickets for the Carnegie Hall shows, which will take place on February 6 and 7, will be sold privately and priced at a premium rate, fetching anywhere from $500 to $2,500 to raise a significant pot of money for the charity. Regular fans aren't completely shut out though. On January 30, a number of reasonably priced tickets will go on sale to the public. The publicly sold seats are being released close to the concert date in hopes of curtailing scalping.
"We're not just doing a show for the sake of it," Hov said. "For all these years, [the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation has] been really grassroots. My mom has been getting on the bus herself and taking kids to orientation and doing this work by herself. Now ... we're building this thing out."