It was a celebratory weekend in the Big Apple for Jay-Z. Hours after launching the sprawling Book of HOV exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library, the rap deity hosted the 20th anniversary Shawn Carter Foundation gala alongside his mother, Gloria Carter, on an overcast Friday night (July 14).
Dignitaries across sports, music, Hollywood, and business crossed paths at the swanky Black-tie affair at Chelsea Piers on Manhattan’s West Side.
The star-studded guest list included Beyoncé, DJ Khaled, Lil Uzi Vert, Tinashe, A$AP Ferg, Meek Mill, Babyface, Regina Hall, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, Yo Gotti, Miguel, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and many more.
Khaled was the last of the stars to hit the Pier 60 red carpet but his entrance was well worth the wait. The energy of the venue noticeably refilled when he and his partner Nicole Tuck stepped out of their mocha Mercedes-Maybach S680 designed by Virgil Abloh, and his array of Khaled-isms could be heard before even being seen.
When the lights are brightest and the cameras are rolling, DJ Khaled is at his best. Strutting down the carpet in a sleek black suit and matching designer shades, the We the Best mogul agrees with Billboard‘s ranking of having his “GOD DID” collaborator atop the greatest rappers list.
“Hov is the GOAT for a lot of reasons,” he begins while taking off his sunglasses. “It would take many books to write the reason why, but for me, it’s to let you know that it’s possible. When I say possible, anything he puts his mind to he makes it happen and takes it to the higher heights.”
Even outside of music, Khaled is impressed with how Jay-Z’s been able to bring his greatness to numerous endeavors and help others along the way. “What I love about him the most is that he’s always there to help somebody,” Khaled continues. “Come on, that’s Jay-Z – the best rapper to ever do it, entrepreneur, mogul, father, family man, friend, partner. It’s too many – that’s HOV did!”
Apple Music executives Zane Lowe and Ebro Darden have had a front-row seat to the Brooklyn legend’s decorated career as longtime radio veterans for over two decades.
“Quality and consistency and knowing the time to expand and when he expanded, he did it really thoughtfully,” Lowe testifies to Jay’s brilliance. “I saw an interview with Burna Boy the other day and someone said, ‘Did it feel like a good decision?’ And he said, ‘I only make good decisions.’ And I feel like that’s JAY-Z’s mantra.”
Ebro adds to give HOV his flowers: “I think his taste, intellect and appreciation of art and culture are the real drivers when you listen to his music. Not only the things that he talks about, but how he puts it together.”
The Shawn Carter Foundation ended up raising over $20 million by the end of the night, which will benefit individuals enduring socio-economic hardships that hope to continue their education. Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos and his fiancée Lauren Sanchez also made a notable $10 million legacy donation.
Inside the gala, Babyface delivered one of the night’s rare performances, with the Grammy-winning legend candidly raving about having the ultimate respect for Jay-Z.
“I’m honored to be here — and if you ask me to do anything, I will always do it, because you deserve that,” Babyface said to a round of applause. “You always deserved to be honored.”
Still recovering from his famous July 4 Hamptons white party, Michael Rubin is someone who has got to know Jay-Z in recent years, through the launch of the REFORM Alliance in 2019 advocating for criminal justice and partnering to purchase sports apparel brand Mitchell & Ness.
“What I’ve learned about Jay is that there is nobody who I know that steps up to do the right thing all the time,” Rubin says. “He cares as much about that as much as anything in his life. That’s what makes him an inspiration to me.”
On the flip side, Roc Nation athletes Dez Bryant and Rudy Gay have long idolized HOV while reaching the top of their respective crafts but now they’re inspired to chase their post-playing career dreams — thanks to seeing the diverse empire JAY-Z has been able to build into his 50s.
“For me, being at the end of my career, it’s something I could really look up to and try to emulate,” Gay says, while the former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver adds: “He makes me feel like I can touch anything I want by watching him be great.”