The Brooklyn Public Library has found an innovative way to get people in the door – library cards with JAY-Z artwork on them.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the Brooklyn Public Library and Roc Nation have released 13 limited-edition library cards with artwork from Jay-Z albums. The initiative, which ends later this month, has already resulted in 14,000 new library accounts, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Public Library told CNN.
The library cards are tied to a Brooklyn Central Library exhibit that explores Jay-Z’s career through rare photos, original recordings, videos and other artifacts.
“The community’s enthusiastic response to this exhibition is a testament to Jay-Z’s immense impact,” Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library, told CNN.
The Jay-Z-themed library cards are available for free for New York State residents. New Yorkers can collect all 13 versions – but only one will be activated to a Brooklyn Public library account to check out resources, according to a library spokesperson.
Though some people are trying to sell the limited-edition cards online, a library employee told CNN they represent only a small fraction of the thousands who have signed up for a new card.
Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter grew up in the Marcy Homes, a public housing complex, in the Brooklyn neighborhood Bedford Stuyvesant, more commonly known as “Bed Stuy” or “the Stuy.” His rise to music fame came in the early ’90s as a performer and later a record label owner and entrepreneur. He became the first billionaire hip-hop artist, selling more than 140 million records and winning 24 Grammy Awards – the most any rapper has received.
New York City’s other library systems have also released distinct cards for the hip-hop anniversary, as has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). In collaboration with Universal Music Enterprises, 80,000 MetroCards featuring LL Cool J, Pop Smoke, Rakim and Cam’ron have been made available at various stations on a first come, first serve basis.
“From standing on top of the Empire State Building to grabbing a slice at the corner pizza shop, NYC creates iconic moments that are recognized around the world,” Rakim said in a news release for the collaboration. “It’s an honor to be celebrating the 50th Anniversary on the streets… and now below them… of the city where hip-hop was born.”
A South Bronx house party in 1973 is credited as the birthplace of hip-hop, when DJ Kool Herc found a way to isolate the percussion and repeat the “break” on the vinyl he was spinning, according to the New York Public Library.