Jay Z Shot His Brother Eric 12 Years Old
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Jay-Z Shot his Older Brother, Eric, When he was 12 Years Old

The incident, as recounted on the last track of In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, “You Must Love Me,” stemmed from Jay-Z’s older brother, Eric, being addicted to crack and stealing his ring.

Hov’s two older sisters, Andrea “Annie” Carter and Michelle “Mickey” Carter, were also present to witness him shooting Eric in the shoulder. Fortunately, his brother survived the shooting and did not press charges against Jay-Z. “I thought my life was over. I thought I’d go to jail for ever,” he told The Guardian years later.

“It was a very stupid thing,” Jay-Z recalled in a 1999 interview with Vibe. “He was messed up at that time. He’d took a ring of mine. It was very, very foolish, you know, like a two-finger ring, but way back then, and it was like a certain thing leading up to these events. I acted outta anger. Since that incident, I’ve never lost it like that.”

In a more recent interview with Complex, Hov’s mentor, Jaz-O remembered it being his gun that was used to shoot Eric. “To be honest, I don’t think [Jay] was aiming to really hit him, in his defense,” Jaz-O explained. “And it was my gun. He didn’t have the gun so he could go and shoot his brother.

“It was a thing back then. You got some arms, you got guns or got a gun, that was a sign of brotherhood with the street. I had no idea for what reason and I don’t think that was the purpose, I’m sure that wasn’t the purpose he wanted the gun, but that’s just how it turned out.”

We used to fight every night but I never would suffer
Just smile, my big brother's tryna make me tougher
As we grew fussing and fighting continued
As I plundered through ya stuff and snuck ya clothes to school
Got intense, real intense as we got older
Never believed it would lead to be poppin' one in your shoulder
Where my rings? Knew you had it 'cause you took too long
As Mickey, Annie and the girl that bought it looked on
Huffin' and puffin' gun in my hand told you step outside
Hoping you said no but you hurt my pride
Made our way down the steps
Maybe you thought it was just a threat
Or maybe ya life was just that crazy
And you was beggin' for death
Try to justify this in my young mind
But the adrenaline and my ego hurt combined
Drove me berserk, saw the devil in your eyes
High off more than weed
Confused, I just closed my young eyes and squeezed (gunshot)
What a sound! Opened my eyes just in time
To see ya stumbling to the ground
Damn, what the fuck I done now?
Runnin' around in a circle thinking I'm assed out
Hot gun burnin' my waist, ran straight to Jaz' house
Like a stranger damn I just shot my nigga
And ran off into the night as if it was not my nigga
Left the scene, how could I go out that way?
Still you asked to see me in the hospital the next day
You must love me

- Jay-Z // "You Must Love Me", November 4, 1997
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