- 22 Feb 19
Two years ago today, the hip-hop icon made his history when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. To mark the occasion, we're going all the way back to 2006, to revisit Paul Nolan's live review of Jay-Z's incredible performance at The Point.
Founded in 1969 by Johnny Mercer of Capitol Records, the Songwriters Hall of Fame seeks to "preserve, honour and celebrate the legacy of the great songwriters whose work has enriched the world’s culture." On February 22 2017, Jay-Z made history as the first rapper to be inducted into the prestigious organisation, joining the likes of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Carole King and David Bowie. Since Jay-Z's induction, rappers Missy Elliot and Jermaine Dupri have also been honoured.
To mark the occasion, we're revisiting Paul Nolan's review of Jay-Z's legendary performance at The Point, originally published in Hot Press in 2006:
Last month Vanity Fair selected its “New Establishment” for 2006, 100 of the most influential movers and shakers in the worlds of business, politics, media and the arts. Conclusive proof that Jay-Z now occupies radically different terrain to the average hip-hop MC came with his selection in the top 50, alongside the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
As if to prove the magazine’s assertion that “the New Establishment is a clannish set”, Jay-Z’s introduction tonight comes courtesy of another man on the list, Bono. After a brief opening mix from Jay-Z’s backing DJs, the U2 singer appears on the big screen. “One thing you’ve got to understand about Jay-Z is that he’s a very sharply dressed man,” he begins. “But an even more important thing is this: Jay Z is a Dub. Jay-Z is bubblin’ in Dublin. Jay-Z is a Dub, Jay is a Dub, Jay-Z is a Dub!” He then leads the crowd in chanting the rapper’s name and, just as the atmosphere reaches fever pitch, on comes Jigga.
Another thing you’ve got to remember about Jay-Z is: the man is, almost effortlessly, a star. After the opening few numbers, all he has to do is wander out to edge of the stage and stare out into the crowd for the whole place to go apeshit (at this point a tricolour with the words “Jigga Man” inscribed on it gets thrown up on stage – and hangs from the DJ’s desk for the remainder of the show).
Jigga also has the tunes to back up the attitude. Virtually all of the songs tonight are abbreviated, but there’s scarcely a duff number among them. Accompanied by a rapping partner, Jay skips through the powerhouse rhythms of ‘99 Problems’ (which features clips from Mark Romanek’s typically excellent video), the soulful grooves of ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.)’ and the funky rhythms of the perennially brilliant ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ with remarkable style and showmanship. One incredibly exciting moment occurs when the DJs drop in the soaring opening brass riff of ‘Crazy In Love’ and Jay-Z performs the fantastic central rap, while he subsequently throws in his version of Punjabi MC’s Knight Rider-sampling bhangra track.
Cell phones and lighters illuminate the darkened theatre during the rapper’s tribute to hip-hop’s fallen brothers and sisters (Tupac, Biggie, Lisa Lopes, etc), making for an awesome sight. There have been a few nods to rock’n’roll throughout the show (with iconic footage of Nirvana destroying their instruments playing during one song), but the most dramatic appropriation of the genre arrives with ‘Heart Of The City (Ain’t No Love)’ from The Blueprint, which tonight is performed over the drumbeat from ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’.
Close to the end, Jay-Z salutes a few audience members (“the dude in the lime shirt on the balcony, I see you – shirt’s a little loud for me, but to each his own”), and then kicks into a pulverising ‘Encore’, which makes for a powerful finale. Don’t be surprised if he’s a little higher up the New Establishment list next year.