Jay-Z opens up about past days as a drug dealer in a November issue of Vanity Fair. The 43-year-old rapper, who also ventures into business as a sports agent, says that he sold drugs to to help his family when he was a teenager.
"We were living in a tough situation, but my mother managed; she juggled," Jay-Z recalls his family's situation. "Sometimes we'd pay the light bill, sometimes we paid the phone, sometimes the gas went off. We weren't starving - we were eating, we were O.K. But it was things like you didn't want to be embarrassed when you went to school; you didn't want to have dirty sneakers or wear the same clothes over again."
While growing up, Jay-Z remembers that "crack was everywhere." He explains, "You could smell it in the hallways, that putrid smell; I can't explain it, but it's still in my mind when I think about it." Young Jay-Z sold it to make ends meet, but he insists that he never used it.
The rapper, however, felt guilty after seeing the drug's effects to community. "I started looking at the community on the whole, but in the beginning, no. I was thinking about surviving. I was thinking about improving my situation. I was thinking about buying clothes," he says.
Beyonce Knowles' husband also tells the magazine that being a drug dealer taught him business skills. "I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer. To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash - those were the businesses back then. Things you can get in easily to get out of [that] life. At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small; you're going to get locked up or you're going to die," he says.