As if to cement the Brooklyn MC’s place in the stratosphere, TIME Magazine has featured Jay-Z as one of The 100 Most Influential People In The World with a place on the front cover – a distinction he shares with six other subjects chosen to represent the laundry list of movers and shakers crammed into the cover story. The gravity of his place on the cover is demonstrated best when Jay’s story – though somewhat anomalous with respect to the sheer volume of homeruns on his stat sheet – is examined as a representation of hip-hop’s societal maturation and the infinite possibility attached to the buying power of a genre that continues to influence and dictate the greatest percentage of pop culture. TIME ups the ante by having New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg pen the feature on Jiggaman, effectively establishing them as contemporaries – a circumstance neither could have predicted at the outset of their respective careers. All of this follows the recent media fall-out over Jay’s trip to Cuba. If nothing else, the events of the past few weeks stand as tangible evidence that lines can be crossed and erased. Though impediments exist for every individual working toward a goal, Jay-Z is a living testament to the idea that barriers exist to be broken so that empires can be built in their place. Jay shares hip-hop’s claim on TIME covers with Lauryn Hill and friend and collaborator, Kanye West. Mayor Bloomberg explains Jay-Z’s meteoric ascent as follows:
Jay Z embodies so much of what makes New York New York. A kid from a tough neighborhood who grows up in public housing, overcomes lots of bad influences on the street, never lets go of his dream, makes it to the top — and then keeps going, pursuing new outlets for his creativity and ambition. When no one would sign him to a record contract, he created his own label and built a music empire — before going on to design clothing lines, open sports bars and, most recently, represent professional athletes. He’s an artist-entrepreneur who stands at the center of culture and commerce in 21st century America, and his influence stretches across races, religions and regions.