The 42-year-old music mogul and entrepreneur says when he was a poor kid in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, he never imagined that he'd someday own a basketball team. Now Jay is part owner of the Brooklyn Nets and instrumental in moving the franchise from New Jersey.
He feels his rags-to-riches story embodies all that is possible in America.
"Yeah I think I'm the American dream," Jay-Z said. "That whole thing that you could come here and pull yourself up by the bootstraps, like that whole thing what America has always put up to the world that we represent. I feel that. Yes, I've lived that."
Jay-Z made the comments at the launch party for the upcoming NBA 2K13 video game, where he acted as the game's executive producer.
As a child, he says, he dreamed of glory on the basketball court.
"You know the three-two-one, oh, he hits the winning shot," Jay-Z said. "But no one was ever on the court saying I was gonna own the Knicks. Yes, it's way beyond any of my wildest dreams."
Now as part owner of the Nets, he's even designed the team's black and white logo. Brooklyn has not had a professional sports team since the Brooklyn Dodgers left for Los Angeles after the 1957 baseball season.
Rapper Bow Wow, who appears in the video game, says he's always looked up to Jay-Z, but the move to bring the Nets to Brooklyn immortalizes him.
"I think that's the biggest inspirational thing for any kid growing up in any ghetto and any suburb, and you can do whatever you want to do as long as you put your mind to it. That's a great man to follow, right there," Bow Wow said.
As for his success with music, fashion with his brand Rocawear and now a video game, Jay says his creativity is all over the place.
"When you're an artist, you can see greatness in all things, and you say, man, I wonder if I can try and tinker with that and maybe if we put the music into (NBA)2K and bring those two cultures" together, Jay Z-said. They "were cousins already, so why not bring the family together and let them sit at the same table?"
The Brooklyn Nets will play in the newly built Barclays Center. But before his new team takes the court for the first time, the rapper will christen the new arena with an eight-show run beginning Friday.
John Carucci covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/jcarucci_ap