JAY-Z took a break from the holiday festivities to join “Empire State of Mind” collaborator Alicia Keys on Twitter Spaces on Tuesday night (December 21.) Co-hosted by Keys and digital media platform Genius, the Spaces was held in honor of the singer’s eighth studio album, KEYS.
When JAY-Z made a surprise appearance in the chat, the conversation switched from a discussion about KEYS to the legendary rapper opening up about his thoughts on competing in a Verzuz battle, Beyoncé arguably having more impact than Michael Jackson, and Lil Mama crashing the 2009 VMA performance of “Empire State of Mind.”
Here’s five things that we learned from Hov during the epic conversation.
Although some on Twitter argued that Jadakiss or Lil Wayne could be rightful VERZUZ contenders, JAY-Z hushed all naysayers when answering Genius VP Rob Markman about appearing in a battle. The chat was seemingly a decline of Rick Ross’ invite to face-off during VERZUZ.
“No one can stand on that stage with me. It’s not a chance in hell that anyone can stand on that stage with me,” Hov responded. “You got to stand in front of the ‘Grammy Family Freestyle’ live? No one has ever even seen me perform that, you got to stand in front of that? That ain’t never going to happen.”
JAY-Z also admitted that Jadakiss took the crown during The Lox vs. Dipset VERZUZ in August.
Keys was recently asked in an interview with Complex about the controversial 2009 VMA performance, but said that she remembered “absolutely nothing” from the incident. This didn’t stop Markman from asking if Hov forgave Lil Mama for crashing their “Empire State of Mind” performance.
“Of course, of course. C’mon. Don’t do that… That’s our sister. Man, we love her. I wouldn’t recommend people just jumping on other artists’ stages…” Jay said. “She’s a New Yorker… She got excited. Things happen. Of course we love her… yes, she’s forgiven. It’s all love and she was coming from a place of love it’s just… may have been a little too excited.”
Beyoncé’s headlining performance at Coachella in 2018 stopped the world, especially as documentary Homecoming debuted on Netflix a year later. Hov, who briefly performed alongside his wife during the show, remains a Beychella stan and spoke about his wife’s impact.
“Bey’s gonna be mad at me for saying this, but Michael Jackson ain’t never have Coachella. He’s amazing and he’s done amazing things, but she’s an evolution of him because she watched him when she was nine,” JAY-Z said. “She watched what he did and she improved upon the concept. Find me a concert that’s was culturally relevant and technically thrilling as Coachella”
During promo for his 10th album, 4:44, in 2017, JAY-Z shared that the process of making the album was cathartic, but on Twitter Spaces, he admitted that 4:44 was one of the toughest albums he’s made. When Markman asked where JAY-Z would rank 4:44, JAY-Z shared that he’d put it in the top-three slot. The rapper also gave insight to the background of the album’s title song.
“I feel like ‘4:44’ is one of my best-written songs. Not in terms of having the best metaphors and things like that, but it’s the song I’ve always wanted to make,” he said. “I would hide it with humor and things like that. I would create ‘Song Cry,’ but I would just say, ‘you don’t do somebody like that’ and kind of sugarcoat it. I feel like ‘4:44’ was raw and it was honest. It was the song I always wanted to make but didn’t wanna ever be in the space where I was that vulnerable.”
While being clear that he was “pro-artist”, the former Def Jam President and CEO gave his support to independent artists who have eschewed major label deals.
“The music labels and the music business should be to facilitate art, to enhance that, to help you — you get your music heard by a wider audience. That’s the attitude you have to have coming in, or you should be independent,” Hov said. “I didn’t create the independent manual, but I definitely added some major chapters. So to see people going about their business the way they are now and being aware and being astute about the business of music makes me super happy.”
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