One of the most prolific rappers of his generation, Jay Z has released 12 solo albums and four collaborative LPs since first showcasing his talents back in 1996. But his tally of Billboard chart entries has also been bolstered by a huge number of guest appearances on artists from the world of hip-hop, R&B and pop. Here’s a look at seven of the best tracks to feature the Jigga Man as a co-star.
Foxy Brown – “I’ll Be”
Sampling Rene & Angela’s minor 1985 hit, “I’ll Be Good,” Foxy Brown’s biggest ever single and surprisingly only venture into the US Top 50 was also most people’s first introduction to Jay Z. Displaying the smooth lyrical flow that would become one of his trademarks, the highlight from the one-time queen of hip-hop’s 1996 debut, Ill Na Na, would also be the last time he would reach such giddy heights for three years.
Mariah Carey – “Heartbreaker”
By teaming up with a diva who had already scored an astonishing 13 number ones in the 90s, it was virtually guaranteed that Jay Z would finally achieve a second Top 10 hit, and indeed a first chart-topper, with 1999 Mariah Carey collaboration, “Heartbreaker.” He may have only appeared as an animated character in the video, reportedly one of the most expensive ever made. But his contribution was arguably just as instrumental to its success as the supremely funky sample of Stacy Lattisaw’s “Attack Of The Name Game” and Carey’s glass-shattering vocals.
Panjabi MC – “Beware Of The Boys (Mundian To Bach Ke)”
One of the few bhangra tracks to crossover to the mainstream, “Beware Of The Boys (Mundian To Bach Ke),” originally went unnoticed on its original release in 1998, but achieved unexpected success five years later when European audiences belatedly caught onto its unusual mix of authentic Indian music and the Knight Rider theme. Showing he still had his finger on the pulse, Jay Z then got in on the action with a remix that brought the sound of Bollywood kicking and screaming into the 21st Century and the Billboard charts.
Pharrell – “Frontin’”
Alongside Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams had already created some of the most inventive R&B/pop of the decade (Britney’s “I’m A Slave 4 U,” Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You,” Kelis’ entire debut) by the time he released his debut solo single. “Frontin’” might not quite have been in the same ballpark as his best work, but it was still a supremely sensual slice of sparse funk which was lent an extra layer of effortless cool thanks to Jay Z’s laid-back middle-eight.
Beyonce – “Crazy In Love”
Jay Z had already worked with Beyonce on his own hit, “’03 Bonnie & Clyde” six months previously. But it was on the Destiny’s Child star’s second solo single that the pair truly earmarked themselves as future music royalty. The borrowing of The Chi-Lites’ “Are You My Woman (Tell Me So),” her sassy booty-shaking vocals, his playful monologue – everything just came together perfectly, scoring the pair by far their most iconic song of both their careers.
Rihanna – “Umbrella”
As if regular collaborations with one superstar weren’t enough, Jay Z has also been pivotal in guiding Rihanna’s career, whether as her Roc Nation label boss or by appearing on the 2007 juggernaut that turned her from an ten-a-penny R&B teen princess into a global phenomenon. His rap, which unusually appears at the beginning of the track rather than after the second chorus, has often been overlooked when it comes to the monumental success of the song. But it’s still an integral part to one of the biggest chart hits of the 00s.
Coldplay – “Lost”
A middle-class white boy from a group once described as ‘indie bedwetters’ and a hip-hop legend who grew up selling drugs in the ghetto of Brooklyn, Coldplay and Jay Z weren’t the most likely of musical bedfellows. But the two polar opposites still managed to produce a crossover track that sounded natural rather than contrived with a remix of a Viva La Vida album cut that was given a new lease of life on the band’s Prospekt’s March E.P.
Jay-Z has just announced the North American leg of his Magna Carta World Tour, just after Kanye West announced his latest tour, and the internet is up in arms about the whole thing because this timing is presumed to be significant in some exciting way.
Here’s the story so far, in chronological order:
1. Kanye West releases an album
2. Jay-Z releases an album
3. Jay-Z goes on tour with Justin Timberlake and performs “N—-s in Paris” without Kanye West for the first time ever
4. Kanye West announces a mega tour
5. Jay-Z announces a mega tour, with tickets for said mega tour going on sale the day before tickets for Kanye West’s mega tour go on sale
There probably is some intention behind all of this, to be honest, but I dunno what it is, so you tell me cause I haven’t got a clue.
Anyhow, Jay-Z looks set to perform in 33 North American cities, stopping off first in St. Paul, Minnesota on November 30 with subsequent stops at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Beyonce’s city of Houston and his hometown of Brooklyn (for two nights). The whole thing wraps up on January 31 2014, with a show at Penn State.
No word on supporting acts, as of yet, but Jay-Z has become famous for pulling out surprise acts, unless the surprise this time is that there is no surprise act, which would be a bit rubbish. In light of everything, my money’s on Kanye West.
Twitter reaction has been unanimously paranoid and conspiracy-mad, with one Tweeter saying this:
“Jay Z really be stealing Kanye thunder bruh”
@XXL saying this:
“Jay Z Steals Kanye’s Thunder With Announcement Of New World Tour Dates”
and someone else saying this:
“Kanye West and Jay Z always in competition”
So there you go.
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Perhaps more than any other figure in the music industry, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate Jay-Z the entrepreneur from Jay-Z the musician, who put out one of the finest hip-hop releases of all-time with Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint. Since the latter was released in 2001, Jay-Z’s finest moments have often come via high-profile collaborations and business ventures, aiding the production and flow of Kanye West’s popular releases while forming a sports agency business that has already signed to the likes of Robinson Cano. Perhaps it’s the overbearing tasks of running a business, but Jay-Z seems only half-there on his twelfth studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail. An over-reliance on out-of-place pop culture references, cameo appearances, and mind-numbing repetition makes the release one of the worst in Jay-Z’s discography. Most fans will struggle finding anything to relate to.
Justin Timberlake gets the album off on proper footing with a stellar vocal performance over a somber piano lead. Jay-Z’s rap delivery is stale and lifeless, making Timberlake’s re-emergence mid-way through a welcoming sight. Jay-Z is accompanied by short piano trickles, where Timberlake is graced by a more flowing lead, a very apt production choice courtesy of all-star production team The-Dream, Timbaland, J-Roc, and No I.D… It’s not the production on Magna Carta Holy Grail that makes it such a lackluster showing. Timbaland and J-Roc deliver the usual polished goods. The album’s issue is simply Jay-Z’s deluded belief that his appearance alone can elevate the track, and that dull repetition can somehow by voided by scattered cameo appearances and lazy rhymes. Lines on “Picasso Baby”, which include “Christie’s with my missy” and “Jeff Koons balloons”, just don’t do anything, apart from informing listeners that Jay-Z knows who Jeff Koons is. He’s an artist like Picasso, too! The track attempts to mix things up mid-way through, but a series of grunts over halted distorted loops doesn’t provide any more excitement.
“Tom Ford” explores more tropical vibes with stuttering vintage synths, providing a more interesting backbone than most attempts on Magna Carta Holy Grail. Kid Cudi would probably love to play with this beat, especially as Jay-Z doesn’t ascend beyond the spoken tone in the intro. The hook here is simply the addition of reflectively seductive female vocals, and despite the interesting synths – which resemble Gorillaz in its late-night push – the bulk of “Tom Ford” is a derivative and predictable ride. “Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit” offers more predictability, but in a more macho and fiscally superior sense. Rick Ross and Jay-Z speak of shopping in Europe with unlimited credit, with Ross delivering the “hook” – “Fuck with me, you know I got it!” Ross, like Jay-Z, relies on past credentials here to enforce the notion that his inclusion in the song alone is a treat to listeners’ ears. Perhaps if “Fuckwithmeyouknowigotit” ever ascended beyond the same initial loop he would have a reason to brag, but here they both sound over the hill. It plays like a lame sequel whose stars are over the hill, which is a disappointment considering both Ross and Jay-Z still have plenty to offer when pretentious delusions don’t get in the way.
The majority of Magna Carta Holy Grail is in poor form, but there are stretches that show bursts of vintage Jay-Z brilliance. The one-two punch of “Ocean” and “F.U.T.W.” are no-frills examples of Jay-Z on top, the latter showing a driving force that integrates twinkling synths with haunting wordless backing croons. Horror-film bouncing keys provide an extra punch, as Jay-Z delivers an infectious performance with lines like “After that government cheese, we eatin’ steak / After the projects, now we on estates,” showing Jay-Z’s ever-popular theme of rising wealth. There is no new lyrical exploration to speak of on Magna Carta Holy Grail, which resembles The Blueprint 3 in its focus on money, family, and fame. But that doesn’t mean “F.U.T.W.” doesn’t pack a stellar punch. “Oceans”, with its drawing brass lines and click-clacking percussion, provides a nice backdrop for Frank Ocean and Jay-Z to deliver the goods in commendably melodic form, even if it resorts to Jay-Z’s favorite technique of name-dropping pop culture (“ocean’s eleven”, a nod to Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit”) that serve as little more than Jay-Z patting himself on the back for being aware.
In addition to the one-two punch of “Ocean” and “F.U.T.W.” on Magna Carta Holy Grail, listeners will also be drawn in by “Versus”, with a ferociously ingenious that is sadly under one minute long, and Beyoncé’s smooth stylings on “Part II (On the Run)”. She sings beautifully over twinkling ambient synth arrangements, which transform into a glistening piano-accompanied wonder when the percussion drops. “Boy meets girl, girl perfect woman,” Jay-Z sings during his entry, soon giving way to his wife’s vocal talents over a lively piano accompaniment. It’s another long-awaited duet between the most powerful husband-wife combos in the industry, and for the most part it flows with the beauty and grace one would expect. Unfortunately for the majority of Magna Carta Holy Grail, that grace and effective conciseness is absent. Jay-Z continues to tread even further from aspects of life that fans can relate to, and his tendency to rely more on appearance than performance is a big hindrance on the album. At least a touch of humility would do Hova some good on his next release.
It’s now official: Justin Timberlake will team up with Jay-Z for a summer tour later this year.
Dubbed the “Legends of Summer Tour,” the trek will kick off at the Rogers Centre in Toronto on July 17 and run for nearly a month, finishing up at Sun Life Stadium in Miami on August 16. Other cities scheduled for the the select tour are New York; Chicago; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Vancouver; Hershey, Pennsylvania; Detroit; Baltimore; Boston and Philadelphia.
Rumors of the tour leaked last week, though the pairing seemed likely, as Jay-Z is featured on the new Timberlake single “Suit & Tie,” which is from the upcoming album The 20/20 Experience. The album is set to be released March 19, and will be Timberlake’s third solo studio album, and his first since 2006. The album’s second single, “Mirrors,” is out now, too.
Timberlake hasn’t toured in over six years, his last being a 60-city North American tour in 2007 for his “FutureSex/LoveShow” trek. Before the Grammys this year, Timberlake said he would be going on tour, but declined to offer further details at the time.
“We’re definitely going to go on tour,” he told Ryan Seacrest. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, I know that.”
During the Grammys. Jay-Z appeared during Timberlake’s performance of “Suit & Tie.” After the ceremonies, Timberlake performed a relatively intimate show at the Palladium in Los Angeles, where Jay-Z joined him again.
All shows on the tour will go on sale February 28 with the exception of the New York show. The onsale date for that stop will be announced later. Other cities will have a presale available, as well.
In other Timberlake news, he also just announced that he will be back at “Saturday Night Live” on March 9 as both host and musical guest.
Further fanning the rumor fire saying Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z will tour together this summer, both artists will headline the Wireless Festival in London this summer.
The festival will be held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Stadium complex in London on July 12-13. Other acts appearing at the event include Snoop Dogg, Frank Ocean, Rita Ora, Emeli Sande, John Legend and DJ Calvin Harris.
“This is a stellar line up of stars that is set to bring the house down this summer at Queen Elizabeth Park London,” said London Mayor Boris Johnson in a statement. “It proves that our fantastic Olympic park is now a destination of choice for world class musical events.”
The complex was built for the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games, and last month it was announced that Live Nation had secured exclusive rights to host concerts at the venue throughout the rest of this year. Live Nation will present this festival, as well as the Hard Rock Calling event. More details on the latter will be released at a later date.
An announcement for the festival says the show will be the only British appearance this year for Timberlake, and will be the only European show for Jay-Z. The two artists collaborated on the new Timberlake single “Suit & Tie,” and appeared together performing the song at this year’s Grammy Awards. Soon after the Grammy ceremonies, Timberlake played an intimate concert at the Palladium in Los Angeles, and Jay-Z appeared on stage to perform the song again.
Rolling Stone reported earlier this month that the two are planning a summer tour that would be guaranteed to be one of the most notable bills this year. At the time, the artists were said to be in negotiations about the tour, but as of yet no official announcements have been made.
Rumor has it Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z will embark on a stadium tour this summer in what could be one of the biggest bills of the year.
Rolling Stone reports that sources involved in negotiations for the deal say the two will play 11 to 13 stadium concerts this summer, but other details are lacking. However, the pairing would seem natural considering Jay-Z not only appears on the new single “Suit & Tie,” but also performed the song with Timberlake during the Grammys over the weekend. Jay-Z also showed up to perform the song at an intimate Timberlake show in New Orleans over Super Bowl Weekend.
Timberlake has hinted that some kind of tour is coming up, but hasn’t released any details.
“We’re definitely going to go on tour…” he told the New York Post on the red carpet before the Grammys ceremony. “I don’t know how much I should say… It’s going to be a lot of fun, I know that.”
Additionally, “Big news coming after Justin’s Grammys performance.” Was tweeted on Timberlake’s account the day before the Grammys.
His new album, The 20/20 Experience is set to be released March 19. Rolling Stone talked to Timberlake about the album, and making it with Timbaland.
“We encapsulated ourselves in the studio and I didn’t tell anybody,” he said. “I was just like, ‘Let’s make some music without all the hoopla of, like expectations. Let’s just make something that feels genuine from us.’ And I’m glad we were able to do that way because, for me, it’s the best stuff I’ve ever done.”
Almost immediately after the Grammys, Justin Timberlake played a sold out show at the Palladium in Los Angeles. He played a 14-song set including “Cry Me a River” and new songs “That Girl” and “Mirrors.” During the encore, Jay-Z joined him once again for “Suit & Tie,” and Timberlake closed the show with “SexyBack.”
“We’re pleased to announce that, on Monday, 31 December, Coldplay will round off a memorable year by performing a very special co-headline show with Jay-Z at Barclays Center, Brooklyn,” read a statement on Coldplay’s website. The statement also notes that, “This will be the second time in two years that Coldplay has celebrated the new year with long-term friend and collaborator Jay-Z, the band having shared the bill with him at a Las Vegas concert in 2010. More recently, Jay-Z performed onstage with Coldplay at the spectacular London 2012 Olympic Games Closing Ceremony.”
Coldplay also will play the Barclays center the previous night, December 30 without Jay-Z. The night before that they will play Uncasville, Connecticut at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Naturally 7 will open this pair of shows.
The Brooklyn shows will mark the first time Coldplay has performed in New York since September 2005.
The Barclays Center just opened in September of this year, but is already attracting some major concerts – in fact, Jay-Z opened the venue with an eight-night stand. Barbara Streisand and the Rolling Stones will perform at the arena in the coming months, as well.
The Rolling Stones had previously announced two shows at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. as part of a mini-tour to celebrate their 50th anniversary, but it was recently revealed that the group also will play Barclays Center on December 8 as part of “The Stones – 50 and Counting” tour.
The arena is also home of the Brooklyn Nets NBA team (of which Jay-Z is part owner). Starting in 2015, the New York Islanders NHL team will also make the venue their home. The team currently plays at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island, New York.
Jay-Z announced back in May that he will be bringing a new festival to the Philadelphia-area Labor Day weekend. At the time, he’d wrangled marquee talent like Pearl Jam, Skrillex and D’Angelo to support his new musical adventure. Now he’s released the full line-up that will flesh out the inaugural festival. Added to the bill this morning are reunited Run DMC, Drake, Chris Cornell, Jill Scott, The Hives, DJ Shadow and Gary Clark Jr. Some of the previously announced artists include Janelle Monae, Santigold, Odd Future, Passion Pit Dirty Projectors and Miike Snow.
The first set of early bird 2-day passes for $99 have sold out, but there are a second slate of early birds for $135 that are still available. The festival organizers are also offering various VIP packages that range from $350-$2199. For two grand you should be able to hunt a hobo on the festival grounds.
Jay-Z, always the busy man, is serving as executive producer of NBA 2K13. He’ll be tasked with assembling the game’s soundtrack which will include lots of his friends from Coldplay and Kanye to U2 and Puff Daddy. Beyond the music, he’s involved in roundtable discussions with game developers and even giving his two cents to marketing efforts. Since he’s part owner of the Nets, do you think he can convince the game developers to not make them suck quite so badly?
Jay-Z has announced that he will perform a three-night residency to open the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The first concert will be held on September 28 at the new arena, and the other two will follow on September 29 and September 30. The arena is being built for the NBA’s Nets basketball team, which will be moving to Brooklyn this fall. Jay-Z’s shows will be the first events held at the facility.
“Jay-Z is the definitive artist to open Barclays Center,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of the arena. “We are thrilled that such an iconic world-class entertainer, not to mention a Brooklynite, will take the borough’s biggest stage on three consecutive nights for what will surely be a historic experience for all fans.”
Jay-Z is a part owner of the Nets, and revealed the new Nets’ logo on his Life + Times site a few months ago. At the time, he told MTV News that, “I wanted to make it really classic and strong; a throwback to Brooklyn and what we’re about. It’s real gritty and we’re not about flash – well, sometimes. Just the roots of Brooklyn as this very bold, strong simple logo.”
The rapper and mogul grew up in housing projects in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. His shows have also made headlines because he will sell around 7,000 upper-level tickets for less than $30.
“We want anyone with interest to have a chance to attend his shows,” Yormark said of the low priced ticket options. “It’s Jay-Z’s way of thanking Brooklyn.”
But Jay-Z won’t be the only Brooklynite making a homecoming at the arena. Barbra Streisand also will perform a show at the venue on October 11. The show will mark her first performance in the borough since she was in high school.
Jay-Z, Beyonce and Nicki Minaj were among the big winners at last night’s 2012 BET Awards.
Jay-Z shared the honor of Best Group with his Watch the Throne collaborator Kanye West, and the two also won Video of the Year for their Spike Jones directed video for “Otis.” Nicki Minaj took home the award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artists, while Beyonce won for Best Female R&B Artist. Beyonce also won for Video Director of the Year, along with Alan Ferguson.
When Kanye West began giving his acceptance speech for the Video of the Year win, Jay-Z interrupted him, joking, “Excuse me Kanye, I’m gonna let you continue, but…” recalling West’s infamous interruption of Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. But the night wasn’t all fun and games, and the most emotional moments came with tributes to Whitney Houston.
The tribute opened with Mariah Carey, who said, “I miss my friend, I miss hearing her voice and laughter.” Monica then appeared to sing “I Love the Lord,” and Brandy sang “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” and “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Chaka Khan, Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon, Loretta Devine and Gary Houston – Whitney’s brother – also participated in the tribute. But it was Houston’s mother Cissy that provided the most emotional moment.
Cissy Houston sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in tribute to her daughter. During the performance, many in the audience, including Beyonce and Souja Boy, were shown in tears.
There were many other notable performances throughout the night, including the first television appearance in many years by D’Angelo, who is staging a comeback this year. Usher performed his new single “Climax,” and Nicki Minaj performed “Champion” and “Beez In the Trap” along with 2 Chainz.
Rev. Al Sharpton received the humanitarian award, and used the opportunity to encourage the audience of the show to vote in the upcoming November presidential election.
“This election is not just about Obama,” he said, “this is about your momma.”