Music mogul billionaire Jay-Z (real name Shawn Carter) 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. As such, it’s hard to imagine the emcee doing something based on raw emotion and impulse. However, after being given a gun in 1981, something catastrophic occurred.
During the 1980s, Jay-Z affiliated himself with Jaz-O (real name Jonathan Burks), an elder in Brooklyn, raised in the same Marcy Houses projects as Carter. After becoming friends, Burks took him under his wing and even featured him on his 1990 single ‘The Originators.’ However, this is not all that he did while mentoring Carter.
In an interview with DJ Vlad for Vlad TV, Burks spoke about the lead-up to the incident where Carter, at the tender age of 12, purposefully shot his older brother, Eric, in the shoulder. Unveiling that the shooting was not fatal, Burks explained, “I can’t remember, but it was a shot to like not as to like fatally wound but just you know … to be honest, I don’t think he was aiming to really hit him, in his defence. He just wanted to get this n*gga scared.”
He continued, “And it was my gun. He didn’t have the gun so he could go and shoot his brother. It was a thing back then. You got some arms, you got guns or got a gun, that was a sign of brotherhood with the street.” Burks happily lent Carter the gun with which he shot his older sibling.
Jaz-O explained letting a friend borrow a gun was a sign of brotherhood but didn’t know the young Jay-Z would actually use it. Elaborating on his disbelief, Burks explained, “I let him borrow the gun. I had no idea for what reason, and I don’t think that was the purpose. I’m sure that wasn’t the purpose he wanted the gun, but that’s just how it turned out.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Jay-Z 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!” However, the Brooklyn icon did not end up going to prison for his actions.
However, he did address it on his 1997 album, In My Life, Vol. 1, on the track ‘You Must Love Me’ on which he raps, “Never believed it would lead to me poppin’ one in your shoulder/Where my rings? Knew you had it ’cause you took too long/As Mickey, Annie, and the girl that bought it looked on/Huffin’ and puffin’ gun in my hand told you step outside.” You can hear Jaz-O admitting to giving a 12-year-old Jay-Z a gun below.