Jay-Z is far and away my favorite rapper. The thing is, being a fan of the world’s most popular rapper doesn’t leave a lot of room to say or play anything that hasn’t been played out. But, in this post (the second of this Music+Moments series), I’ll try to give some surprising glimpses into Hova– highlighting the innovator that sometimes gets lost in the megawatt glare of him as a superstar, husband, and business… man.
In only 8 and a half minutes, this clip demonstrates how Jigga can invite Prodigy, Memphis Bleek, Amy Winehouse, AC/DC, and others to come play in his world. It’s also a fantastically-funny retort to Liam Gallagher’s (of Oasis) complaint that a rapper could never headline Glastonbury. One review called this show the best concert in a decade; another referred to it as a master class in live performance. I just call it #1 on my wish-I-could’ve-been-there list.
This chilled-out live version of “Encore” gives Jigga the opportunity to show off his lyrical twists, accompanied only by a piano riff. Especially fun is his freestyle at the end of the song, in which he’s quick enough on his feet to comment on his rhymes as they spontaneously happen.
Encore (Live on Radio One), Jay-Z
With a willingness to open source a capella and instrumental versions of his song, Jay-Z is also the topic of many mash-up concept albums including this one that brings together Hova and Radiohead:
Fall in Step, Jay-Z and Radiohead (Minty Fresh Beats)
And this one that brings him together with Coldplay (more specifically, with Chris Martin’s lyrics off of the song “Homecoming” by Jackass… er, Kanye).
No Love Coming Home, Jay-Z and Chris Martin (produced by Mick Boogie and Terry Urban)
And, lastly, there’s nothing clever about posting this song. It’s a huge radio hit right now. And there’s nothing hugely unique about the song itself. But it does show that, even for innovators, there’s something to be said for times when you just do your thing– and you do it really, really well.
Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z (feat. Alicia Keys)