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(Wall Street Journal) — Rolling through New York City in the back seat of his black Maybach, Jay-Z touches a button to let more light through the translucent roof, then tugs back a window curtain to peek out at the rainy streets of his hometown. The rapper went from a Brooklyn housing project to a top corner office near Times Square, a path traced in “Empire State of Mind,” his anthem to the city that has taken a place next to Sinatra’s.  At age 40 and still rapping, Jay-Z inhabits the rare zone where cultural cachet and corporate power meet. He’s had partnerships with Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Reebok and Microsoft. Forbes magazine put him on the cover of its current 400 “Richest People in America” issue, even though at $450 million he was only “on his way” to cracking the list ($1 billion was required this year). He’s posted more No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 list than anybody but the Beatles, has won 10 Grammy awards and sold 45 million albums.

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