On July 4th, 2013, America will celebrate its 237th birthday, and its 12th Jay-Z album.

Magna Carta Holy Grail is coming. Will it be good? Can it ever possibly outrun its own marketing? (I'm assuming) none of that matters to Jay-Z. "Creative aspirations are for poor people and Kanye West," Jay-Z (probably) said during a production meeting he was holding inside of Mt. Olympus with Mike Dean and Beezlebub and several of Chief Keef's play cousins. What (I'm assuming) matters is that MCHG will arrive here like no other album in history has: With a big, fat "Platinum" stamped across its forehead, digital copies having already been purchased a million times over in a deal negotiated between Jay and Samsung.

Jay-Z is, to be sure, one of the greatest salesman in American historty. And he has made lots and lots of money. A half a billion dollars worth of money.* His Marcy Project bear paw prints are on NBA teams, computers, beer, fireworks, vagina scrubs, stylish yarmulkes for trendy Jewish teenagers, and maybe probably 600 other products. In hindsight, his success seems less like the work of Darwinian evolution and more like the ceaseless hand of inevitably. On the pages that follow, a list of 20 things that he's tried to sell us since way back when he released his first album in 1948.

(*Technically, Jay-Z's the second richest rapper of all. Diddy, whose estimated net worth is at a stout $580 million, is $80 million richer. Still, Jay rates about a billion times higher on the I Wish I Was Him scale than Diddy. It probably has something to do with Diddy's dolphin** teeth.)

**I miss Chappelle Show. :'(

Written by Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano)

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