By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
They're so rich that bankers fight one another to the death in a circle of fire in parking lots just trying to secure their investments. They're so rich that their money actually laughs at you on the way to work. And they're each making more than a million bucks a show on the Legends of Summer tour. Here's a quick summary of how these two "Suit & Tie" guys made it this far.
The early years. Jay Z was born Shawn Corey Carter and raised in Brooklyn's Marcy projects. He formed a bond with an older rapper named Jaz-O who had a record deal, and they collaborated on the studio recording and music video for his track "Hawaiian Sophie." In 1988, Jaz took young Jay with him to London for a promotional tour, and the kid was given a small per diem. After that trip, Jay Z took his earnings back to New York City, multiplied them through drug sales, and funded himself for the rest of his life.
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By contrast, Justin Randall Timberlake was born in Memphis and raised in a small town called Shelby Forest. His parents broke up when he was 3 years old, and each of them remarried. At age 11, JT performed a country music routine on television's Star Search as Justin Randall — and lost. But within a couple of years, he joined the cast of The All-New Mickey Mouse Club and made friends with a couple of cute blondes named Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.
Gangster shit. In 1999, at an NYC listening party for Q-Tip's solo album Amplified, the already-Grammy-winning Jay Z stabbed record producer Lance "Un" Rivera, a close associate of Biggie Smalls' and the man who discovered rapper Cam'ron. Some attribute the incident to an early album leak, and others say it was related to a love feud. When arrested, Jay Z denied all charges, but he later received three years of probation and, according to the Associated Press, mumbled, "I stabbed Lance Rivera," as he pleaded guilty. Jay Z and Rivera settled out of court on civil charges at a cost of $600,000 to $1 million to Shawn Carter.
As for JT, his work for Disney had caught the eye of boy-band impresario Lou Pearlman, who'd scored millions of dollars as the creator of the Backstreet Boys. In 1995, Pearlman formed a new group featuring Timberlake and four others, and it was called 'Nsync. He moved JT and the others to an Orlando compound where they worked on dance moves and harmonies. Then he got them a European record deal. The whole time, though, Pearlman was also a Ponzi schemer bilking investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. And while 'Nsync sold millions of records, Pearlman allegedly defrauded them, stealing 50 percent of the profits. Timberlake has called it "financial rape." Pearlman is currently incarcerated, serving a 25-year prison sentence related to the Ponzi scheme.
Timbaland. Deep in the lush tropical environs of his Pinecrest mansion, Timothy Zachery Mosley pumps iron and drinks protein shakes while writing new pop symphonies in his head. This musclebound superproducer, better known as Timbaland, is as much a reason for Jay Z and Justin Timberlake's success as the artists themselves. He was the man behind the boards on Hova's "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" and "Big Pimpin'" and JT's "Cry Me a River" and "SexyBack." He was also the driving force behind the pair's pioneering new projects, Magna Carta... Holy Grail and The 20/20 Experience.
Without Timbaland, Jay Z and JT would still have all the drive, determination, and ambition it takes to be successful, but they wouldn't have the one thing money can't buy — hit records and studio wizardry. Of course, adding a few new zeros to Timbaland's bank statements is as good a way as any to motivate this third "Suit & Tie" guy.