Hellobeautiful Featured Video

Happy birthday, Jay-Z! Today (December 4), the emcee turns 52 years old, and from Twitter shoutouts to IG carousels, the Internet has wasted no time in celebrating the Brooklyn-born rapper properly.

At this point, Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Carter, has become synonymous with legendary and his decades-long career has given hip-hop fans and general music fans alike 13 studio albums, countless iconic verses, multiple businesses, and a positive influence that’ll stand the test of time. From the first time we were introduced to Jay-Z till now, fans have followed the rap star’s every move, watching him grow from a hustler to a businessman to a philanthropist to a husband and family man.

But his title isn’t the only thing that’s evolved over the years as his trendy style has changed as well, with the rapper stepping outside the mold with his clothing and hair choices. From the low-top fade to his current natural look and everything in between, let’s celebrate Jay-Z’s birthday by looking back at the rapper’s natural hair journey over the years.

1. 2016

2016 US Open Source:Getty

In 2016, Jay-Z hadn’t quite started his natural hair journey yet as he rocked his hair short and cut down. Here’s the emcee at the 2016 US Open as he watched a Women’s Singles match between Serena Williams and Vania King. 

2. 2017

Celebrity Sightings in New York City - September 29, 2017 Source:Getty

In 2017, Jay was still very early in his natural hair journey as he traded in his short cut and began growing out his locs. Here he is spotted on the streets of Manhattan in September of that year. 

3. 2018

Beyonce and Jay-Z "On the Run II" Tour - Houston Source:Getty

During the “On the Run II” tour, Jay-Z was spotted on stage with a mini afro as he continued growing his natural hair.

4. 2019


In 2019, his hair continued to grow as he rocked it long and loc’ed at the SOMETHING IN THE WATER festival in April of that year. 

5. 2020

Celebrity Sightings in New York City - September 18, 2020 Source:Getty

Last year, Jay began to really show off his loc’ed look as he was spotted in NYC donning the style.  

6. 2021

Los Angeles Premiere Of "The Harder They Fall" Source:Getty

Most recently, Jay-Z was spotted at the Los Angeles Premiere of “The Harder They Fall” with his full, natural hair. 

For 2024’s iteration of MadameNoire and HelloBeautiful’s annual series Women to Know, we knew we wanted to celebrate the people who help make the joys of film and television possible. To create art is to create magic. This year, we spotlight Hollywood Executive’s changing the face of cinema.