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Jay-Z on Growing Up in the Projects -- and Selling Drugs (VIDEO)

by Oliver Miller, posted Nov 17th 2010 2:45AM
Jay-Z on Growing Up in the Projects -- and Selling DrugsRapper Jay-Z is one of the ten most successful recording artists of the past decade. But on the new 'Late Show' (weeknights, 11:35PM ET on CBS), he discussed his very humble upbringing.

Jay-Z (real name: Shawn Carter) was born in the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, NY, and he went through some tough times. Shawn was abandoned by his father when he was 12. Without a man in the house, he had to find a way to support himself -- which led to some very questionable decisions.

David Letterman asked about life in the projects: "What was that like for a kid?" Jay-Z said sometimes there were "great days ... fun and ice cream." "But then, some days it would turn super-violent." Asked about the source of the violence, Jay-Z said it was caused by "little guys with big guns."

The host then asked if drugs had influenced Jay's life. "I never used drugs," the rapper said. But he quickly clarified, "I mean, I used them ... I was always on the business-end." In fact, Jay-Z started selling crack cocaine when he was only 13 years old. Since drugs led to much of the violence he saw as a kid, this was an admission that Jay worked with some of the "guys with guns."

Elsewhere, the rapper has said he never realized selling drugs as a teen was unusual -- no one who escaped the projects ever bothered to come back and share their wisdom with him. But the rapper escaped, and came back. He still lives in New York with his wife Beyoncé, and supports charities that fight poverty.

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