Jay-Z has always been seen as a cool, level-headed, savvy businessman who knows when to make the right move and when to sit tight. However, in 1999, the Brooklyn emcee made a grave error when he stabbed a man at an album release party.
Following the release of his fourth studio album, Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter, Jay-Z was one of the most renowned rappers in the world. As such, Jay received invites to several exclusive events, including Q-Tip’s Amplified launch party. Located at the Kit Kat Club in downtown Manhattan, anybody who was important was there, including Hov.
According to reports, Carter arrived in a car late, as he had hosted his own listening party at Irving Plaza the same night. The ‘Hard Knock Life’ lyricist reportedly pulled up to the club in the company of Roc-A-Fella’s Beanie Sigel, Amil and Memphis Bleek. However, someone in Hov’s bad book was already inside the venue, the CEO and co-founder of Untertainment, Lance ‘Un’ Rivera.
While at the party, Jay-Z confronted him over rumours that Rivera had leaked his album, Vol 3… Life and Times of S Carter, ahead of its release, which would have led to low sales. Following the initial altercation, a fight broke out. This led to Rivera leaving the Kit Kat Club in an ambulance and getting treated for wounds to his shoulder and abdomen.
To begin with, police didn’t have a primary suspect or any knowledge of the weapon used. However, many believe that Rivera named Shawn Carter as the attacker to the police. With a warrant out for his arrest, Hov turned himself in at the Midtown South Precinct and was charged with ‘felony assault in the third degree’.
Despite the reality that Jay-Z handed himself in, Rivera has since unveiled that one of Jay-Z’s affiliates attacked him and not the musician himself. In a 2022 interview on Vlad TV, Rivera debunked the myth, recalling, “I ended up getting surrounded by a bunch of people. It was probably ten guys that I knew of, and I ended up getting stabbed. But Jay-Z was not the guy who actually stabbed me that night.”
Rivera admitted that Carter was present and they did have a conversation, but he was not physical with him in any way, recounting, “[Jay and I] had a conversation right before I got hit in the head with a champagne bottle. It was a brief conversation, and I was looking at him like, ‘What are you talking about? You know you f*cking the money up right now.’”
In 2003, Jay-Z spoke to Sway Calloway about the incident and expressed that it made him realise that it’s possible to lose your fame just as quickly as you gain it. You can watch the video below.