Music mogul billionaire Jay-Z is very much known for his composure and rationality. Since he emerged on the hip-hop scene, he has always been perceived as a clever and pragmatic businessman. Moreover, unlike his counterpart Kanye, who has always been highly impulsive, he has consistently shown himself to be logical. As such, one would be hard pushed to imagine the Brooklyn rapper doing something based on raw emotion and impulse. However, at the tender age of 12, the artist (real name Shawn Carter) purposefully shot his older brother in the shoulder. A highly irrational action, to say the least.
Akin to when the rapper stabbed Lance ‘Un’ Rivera in 2001, he is usually unwilling to talk about the altercation with his brother, most likely due to being ashamed of the action. However, in a 2010 interview with The Guardian, the Roc Nation founder opened up about the incident for the first time.
Taking place in 1981, Jay-Z was still living in the deprived Marcy Projects of Bedford-Stueyvant when the altercation occurred. Speaking with British journalist Alexandra Topping about American gun culture, Carter explained how, in his area, “guns were everywhere. You didn’t have to go far to get one. Just everywhere. They were around every day. There were shootouts, but I never shot anyone else. Most people in shootouts don’t get shot.”
Speaking with surprising honesty, Carter admitted that during the 1980s, his older brother Eric, unfortunately, fell victim to crack cocaine. The ‘PSA’ rapper went into further detail and disclosed that his drug-addicted sibling began stealing from him and his mother to finance his narcotic issues. The Brooklyn native revealed that one treasured item that his brother stole was a ring that cost over $200 (a lot to him then).
Sick and tired of seeing him and his mother suffer because of his brother, he took it upon himself to teach Eric a lesson by shooting him. He admits he didn’t aim to kill but instead to hurt. Carter, only 12, got his hands on a gun from a local and proceeded to shoot his sibling three times in the shoulder. Speaking on how he felt after doing the deed, the musician recalled, “I thought my life was over! I thought I’d go to jail forever. It was terrible. I was a boy, a child. I was terrified!”
Carter put his brother in the hospital, but even though it was he who shot the gun, Eric was the one who delivered an apology to Jay and his mother for his crack addiction and the chaos he had caused because of it. On the New York artist’s 1996 album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, he addresses the shooting, rapping, “Saw the devil in your eyes, high off more than weed/ Confused, I just closed my young eyes and squeezed/ What a sound, opened my eyes just in time to see ya stumbling to the ground.”
You can listen to Carter go into detail about the shooting on the track ‘You Must Love Me’ in the video below.