The Brooklyn Library already held the title of “most well-rounded collection of Brooklyn history in the world” and on Friday, the library proved the worthiness of this title when it debuted a new Jay-Z-inspired exhibit titled Book of HOV. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter is an integral part of the borough’s story and the tribute exhibition commemorates his journey from Marcy Projects to Roc Nation and his status as a globally adored musical figure. With thousands of personal objects from Jay-Z’s career, never-before-seen photos, and a life-sized replica of the recording studio where the “Can’t Knock The Hustle” singer recorded some of his first hits, the multimedia experience has become one of the highlights of the summer!
Right from the striking entrance, visitors are greeted by Jay-Z memorabilia. The main branch of the library decorated the exterior with lyrics from songs like “Encore” and “Sweet” on what looks like an open book. Everywhere you look on the inside of the library there is something related to Jay-Z, like the mural by Jazz Grant made of hand-cut and scanned imagery or the news clippings that regale Jay-Z’s 13 albums and the companies he founded like Rocawear. The exhibit is presented in chapters, similar to a book, with each representing a different era of Jay-Z’s life with visuals, audio stories, and artifacts.
Book of HOV, named after his iconic song lyric in DJ Khaled’s 2022 Grammy-nominated “God Did,” was a huge undertaking by Jay-Z’s record label and management company. Produced entirely by the library’s executives in collaboration with Roc Nation, the exhibition is possibly the largest in-house display the library has ever created.
The best part of such a large-scale statement is that it’s at the heart of the community, in a place accessible and welcoming to everyone. Roc Nation ensured that the exhibit would be grand enough to fit the space without interrupting the normal daily workings of the library. The hope is that the comprehensive collection inspires New Yorkers and young musical artists who look up to the rapper, to understand his journey and let it aid their own.
At the central library exhibit, and at the Marcy Branch, there are over 300 donated books, including ones from Jay-Z’s personal archive. Roc Nation and the Brooklyn Public Library are also offering 13 limited-edition library cards, each featuring art from one of Jay-Z’s albums—from Reasonable Doubt to 4:44. Starting July 14th, visitors can collect all 13 cards at different branches across the borough.
You can start your own collection and experience the cultural impact, artistry, and roots of the Brooklyn celebrity up close at 10 Grand Army Plaza. Admission is free and the exhibit is on view during library hours. The exhibit will remain open to the public all summer.
Next, read about Cosmic Gardens Brings a Multi-sensory Musical Experience to Brooklyn