At age 12, Jay-Z shot his brother in the shoulder for stealing his ring and the world-renowned rapper and producer, who belonged to a gang, says that he thought he would "go to jail forever".
Jay-Z, a 40-year-old Grammy-winning artist who has sold more than 50 million albums and is currently promoting his new memoir, "Decoded", made his comments in a recent interview published in the UK newspaper The Guardian.
The rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter and who is currently married to R&B artist Beyonce, grew up in New York City. He wrote about shooting his older brother Eric, a crack cocaine addict, in his song "You Must Love Me."
"I went to someone's crib, someone's house, and got it. Guns were everywhere. You didn't have to go far to get one. Just everywhere," Jay-Z told The Guardian, adding that after he shot his brother, "I thought my life was over. I thought I'd go to jail for ever. It was terrible. I was a boy, a child. I was terrified."
"But guns were around every day," he added. "There were shoot-outs, but I never shot anyone else. Most people in shoot-outs don't get shot."
His brother never pressed charges. As a child gang member, Jay-Z was shot at several times but was never hit. He sold crack on the streets for more than a decade to support his mother, who raised them as a single parent.
"Before, when our elders told us something, you had to listen," Jay-Z said. "But now we were in power because the people who were supposed to be our support system were on crack, and they was telling us, 'I'll do anything to get it.' So we were like elders in the village, with a whole community on drugs. There was no one to police us. And we were out of control."