The New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture posted a photo from its archives on its Facebook page on Tuesday. "Harlem Loiterers," taken in 1939 by Sid Grossman, features one man who looks a LOT like Hova (this New York Times blog post features a nice side-by-side to compare, although there's really no point in comparing since it's clearly the same person).
This explains a lot, actually; some of Jay-Z's lyrics fit in so well with the Jazz Age (which ended a few years before this photo was taken, but still) that Vulture recently created a quiz asking readers to guess if a phrase was a line from The Great Gatsby or a lyric from Jay-Z song.
The Schomburg Center hopes to find out who the man in the picture was, so if you have any idea, let them know. Although if your guess isn't "Jay-Z and his time machine" then, clearly, you are wrong.
Need more evidence? Well, I just happened to come across Jay-Z's original lyrics for "Empire State of Mind" which were definitely not written by my roommate while consulting a website full of 30s slang:
Yea I'm out at Woolworths, now I'm down in Tin Pan Alley
right next to Chaplin, but I'll be jive forever
I'm the new Cab Calloway, and since I made it here
I can make it anywhere, yea, they keen on me everywhere
In 2010, it was discovered that Office star John Krasinski was also in possession of a time machine, which he used to travel to 1830s Denmark to have his portrait painted.