The Book of HOV Exhibit celebrating Jay-Z

Outer facade of the Brooklyn Public Library like a book with Jay Z lyrics

There’s a new must visit exhibit in New York City, and it is the Book of HOV at the Brooklyn Public Library.  Opening on July 14, 2023, it has taken over the Brooklyn Central Library as a retrospective to celebrate the life and career of Jay-Z, one of rap’s most influential artists. The Book of HOV exhibit spans Jay-Z’s life from his beginnings at Marcy Avenue, to his success as an artist and entrepreneur, and the legacy of his philanthropic endeavors. But who is Hov? The name Hov derives from a nickname for Jay-Z, also known as J Hova, given his divine influence on hip hop and rap. I really enjoyed visiting this immersive exhibit to become better acquainted with the impact of Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, on both the music industry and broader cultural landscape.

Created by Roc Nation, the exhibit is organized like a book with different chapters for different stages of his life showcasing Jay-Z’s professional achievements and his personal triumphs. It celebrates Jay-Z as a Brooklyn native from his humble beginnings in Bed Stuy’s Marcy Projects to his ascent to a global music mogul and business tycoon, giving visitors an intimate glimpse into his journey and successes from a street-savvy rapper to a global hip-hop icon. As it says at the exhibit – “It’s an inspiring reminder that, no matter where you start, with talent, hard work, and a little bit of that ‘Empire State of Mind’, you can change the world.”

The Book of HOV Exhibit

Jay-Z Exhibit: Opening the Pages of The Book of HOV

The Book of HOV is a free exhibit which actually begins outside the Brooklyn Public Library – Central at Grand Army Plaza where there is a cube playing a video on rotation with all things Jay-Z. The façade of the library looks like an open book covered with Jay-Z lyrics, painting a very striking picture as you walk in the door, albeit after standing in line given the number of people that are lining up for the exhibit.

Section 1 – Introduction

As you step inside the library, there are long lines of people waiting on either side of the lobby to get one of thirteen limited edition Jay-Z themed library cards, each for one of Jay-Z’s solo albums, which are at the Central and Marcy libraries, and will be available at other libraries from August. New York State residents can sign up to be issued these cards, though you can only get one at a time, needing many many trips to the library to collect the entire set.

There’s a lending library of more than 300 books from Jay-Z’s personal collection which can be checked out from the Central and Marcy branches.

The entrance has a sculpture of HOV’s hands created by Daniel Arsham making the diamond triangle hand sign welcoming everyone in from the lobby to the atrium.

Stepping inside, visitors are surrounded by all things Jay-Z from ceiling to floor, which kicks off the journey through Jay-Z’s life and career including multimedia displays, rare photographs, personal memorabilia, and even a replica of the recording studio that started it all.

Section 2: A Work of Art Already

The atrium has a section called A Work of Art Already, which features Jay-Z’s 13 solo albums, and art that ranges from a Marcy Houses sign to a Roc-A-Fella chain, a replica of Barclays Center, and others, some of which are below.

Section 3: Baseline Studios

In this section, you can step into a replica of Baseline Studios, where Jay-Z crafted some of his most iconic albums. Located at 127 West 26th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, the section features rare studio footage of Jay-Z creating music here, bringing life to this section. You can see video of Jay-Z in the studios where he created classics like The Blueprint and the Black Album, lifting the curtain on where the magic happened. 

Section 4: Did It All Without a Pen

One of the most intriguing aspects of Jay-Z’s artistry is his ability to craft intricate verses without putting pen to paper, which is celebrated in Did It All Without a Pen.  This section has everything from the original cassettes, hard drives and recording equipment that he used for his work, to all the awards he has won, magazine covers he has been on, and most importantly his albums which are available for visitors to listen to. As this section write up aptly summarizes, Jay-Z understood that melodies must move the body if they are to motivate the mind, summing up the impact his music has made on his fans.

Section 5: Business, Man

Beyond the music, Jay-Z’s impact extends to the business world, and this section of the exhibit delves into his entrepreneurial ventures. “Business, Man” explores Jay-Z’s journey from rapper to savvy businessman, tracing his path from creating his own label to beyond, as a co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records and the development of Rocawear, which became a dominant urban fashion brand, to the 40/40 Club to Roc Nation, the entertainment company. The section also highlights his venture into the streaming industry with TIDAL, showcasing his foresight and ability to adapt in an ever-evolving music landscape. Jay-Z is also the force behind growing his cognac label, D’Usse, and champagne brand Armand de Brignac, to global recognition.

Section 6: Win-Win

Win-Win highlights the philanthropic efforts that Jay-Z has been involved with. The section covers his involvement in criminal justice reform, educational initiatives, and social justice causes. Jay-Z has partnered with the NFL to shape social and criminal justice reform efforts. Through inspiring stories of positive change and empowering projects, the exhibit showcases Jay-Z’s dedication to making a lasting impact beyond the realm of entertainment.

Section 7: So Fly

So Fly, set in the Youth Wing, So Fly is a paper plan making section with a profound message – Greatness is a Process.

“The Paper Plane

Teaches you to imagine

Once  you dream

You set your intention

This is what I want

Where I want to be”


Section 8: Hov did that

The final section of the exhibit, Hov did that, celebrates the incredible success and impact Jay-Z has achieved throughout his career. Through a collection of awards, accolades, and milestones, visitors witness the magnitude of his influence on the global music industry and popular culture. From his record-breaking chart-topping albums to his iconic performances and cultural contributions, this section pays tribute to Jay-Z’s enduring legacy and cements his status as one of the greatest artists of all time.

Ironcially, this is the only section I could not get to before it closed for the day, so I do need to make my way back again soon.

Who is Hov? Behind the nickname Hov for Jay-Z

Hov is a nickname for Jay-Z, a short form for Jay-Hova. This, as it looks, is a play on Jehovah, a name for God in the Old Testament. 

Jay-Z got the nickname for his divine influence on rap and hip-hop, both of which have been undeniably shaped by his influence.  Jay-Z uses Hova in his lyrics, making it a well known nickname among his fans.

Visiting the Book of HOV exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library

The Book of HOV exhibit is at the Brooklyn Public Library, also known as the Central Library or the Brooklyn Central Library, at 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn NY 11238. It is easily accessible by the 2, 3, B and Q subway lines and the B41 bus. The exhibit is free to visit. The current hours can be confirmed on their website. However, please keep in mind that access to the exhibits is closed an hour before the library closes, so for weekdays when the library closes at 8pm, access to most exhibits other than the atrium will end at 7pm. The same is true for library cards, their issue stops an hour before the library closes.

Closing Thoughts on Book of HOV

The Book of HOV exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library is an immersive journey through the life, artistry, and influence of one of hip-hop’s most extraordinary figures. Each section provides a unique perspective on Jay-Z’s multifaceted persona, offering visitors an opportunity to understand the man behind the artist and explore the deeper meaning of his impact on society. The Book of HOV exhibit is a great opportunity for fans of hip-hop, rap, music enthusiasts, and history buffs to get an intimate look at the life and legacy of Jay-Z.  As a free exhibit, it is open and accessible to all, and showcases Jay-Z’s journey, music, achievements, influences, successes, and his legacy.  Most importantly, it is based where it all started, in Brooklyn, a borough that nurtured his artistic brilliance and supported his journey to making his voice a global one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Book of HOV free?

Yes! The Book of HOV is a free exhibit celebrating Jay-Z at the Brooklyn Central Library.

Where is the Book of HOV Exhibit?

The Book of HOV Exhibit is at the Brooklyn Central Library at  10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238.

How long does the Book of HOV Exhibit last?

The Book of HOV opened on July 14, 2023, and has been extended until December 4, 2023.

How long will the Book of HOV Exhibit be available?

The Book of HOV Exhibit at the Brooklyn Central Library has been extended until December 4, 2023.

Where can you get the Book of HOV Brooklyn Library tickets?

There are no tickets required for the Book of HOV exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library, and no reservations are required. There may be a line to get in based on the number of people at the time you visit.

Where is the Jay-Z Exhibit?

The Jay-Z Exhibit is called the Book of HOV, and it is at the Brooklyn Central Library at  10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238.

Where can you get Brooklyn Library Jay-Z tickets?

There are no tickets or reservations required for the Jay-Z Exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library.

What is the best time to visit the Jay-Z Exhibit at the Brooklyn Central Library?

The best time to visit the Jay-Z Exhibit, Book of HOV, at the Brooklyn Public Library is on a weekday when it is not crowded. However, keep in mind that sections of the exhibit are closed off an hour before the library closing time, so plan your trip accordingly.

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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.

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