Yes, you still have time to visit the Jay-Z exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library! “The Book of Hov” is a tribute to the life and career of Shawn Corey Carter, aka Jay-Z. The multi-award-winning musician, businessman, philanthropist and Brooklynite’s global work is on display at the Central Library, located at Grand Army Plaza, until October. Lyrics from some of Jay-Z’s songs adorn the front of the iconic Brooklyn building, and a video box playing clips of his most historic moments loops in front.
Born in Brooklyn on December 4, 1969, and raised in the Marcy Projects, Jay-Z transcended the neighborhood to become an international leader. The exhibition is the brainchild of Roc Nation, a company Jay-Z started back in 2008. Roc Nation is a multifaceted entertainment company that manages artists in various genres, produces concerts, runs a sports management department and has a partnership with Long Island University Brooklyn Campus, where aspiring entertainment professionals can earn a BS, BA, BFA or MS in Music, Sports or Entertainment Management.
The library reported that since the exhibit opened on July 14th, over 176,000 visitors have experienced the show. The Canarsie Courier spoke to visitors that traveled from across the country – places like Philadelphia, Maryland and California – to see the multimedia showcase. Each section of the Book of Hov represents a chapter of Jay-Z’s life. One space on the library’s main floor displayed some of his Grammys and major music awards. In the center of the library is Jay-Z’s original recording studio where most of his chart-topping hits were created. A representative at the Central Library told the Canarsie Courier, that it took three weeks to build the exhibit inside the library, even though many parts were prepared outside the building and then brought in.
Jake, an usher at the library and a student at Brooklyn College, said that he was surprised at the extent of Jay-Z’s philanthropic work. Jake says seeing the impact he has on people has been very eye-opening for him because he didn’t realize the magnitude of Jay-Z’s work and artistry. He was also amazed by how quietly the rapper goes about his activism work. In one of the areas, he found the letter Jay-Z wrote to the District Attorney in Mississippi about the terrible living conditions of prisoners.
The exhibition was years in the making thanks to the creative team at Roc Nation who worked alongside Jay-Z. Kendra and Angel from Crown Heights told the Canarsie Courier that the exhibit was very enjoyable and a lot to take in. The one thing Kendra and her partner found most compelling were the vinyl records. Not having seen vinyl records in many years brought back so many memories of the 80s and 90s when DJs would have to bring crates of records to play sets at parties.
The tribute to Jay-Z launched this summer to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop celebrations held throughout Brooklyn. The library has seen a spike in membership since the show’s opening. They’ve gained over 14,000 new patrons thanks to The Book of Hov. In addition to the regular library card, 13 special cards were made with select album covers from Jay-Z’s top albums. These cards can be found across Brooklyn, and the Canarsie and Jamaica Bay libraries have “The Blueprint,” one of his most iconic albums released on 9/11/2001, the same day as the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Andrian and Deon from Philadelphia took a day trip to Brooklyn to see the exhibit. The couple played “Part II (On the Run)” as their wedding song, and they told the Canarsie Courier that most of the biggest moments of their lives have had Jay-Z’s music as the backdrop. Coming to the library was magical, seeing all the work, the shows, the accomplishments and knowing he lived in the projects not too far from the library was mind-blowing.
The Central Library wasn’t the only place that gained a lot of attention from the exhibition. Food vendor Andrew, who sells juices and fruits outside the building, has seen an uptick in business since the installation. He said customers from around the world have stopped by to grab a drink before or after taking in the memorabilia of Brooklyn’s rapper.
The exhibit runs until October, and don’t let what you see on social media fool you – it’s even better in person! For more information, visit the bookofhov.com or stop by the Canarsie Library at 1580 Rockaway Parkway.