“You guys aren’t into hip hop. I got one question – where’s the love?”
– Jay-Z, before ‘Heart of the City‘
Ok, so as I start this article I’m currently watching Jay-Z answer all his critics on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury 2008. Sticking his middle finger up to Noel Gallagher by opening with the iconoclastic Wonderwall, throwing AC/DC riffs into his set, and a dose of the likes of Prodigy for good effect.
The idea of live hip-hop is one that I don’t really understand the appeal in. A single man doing karaoke to a mix tape? I do that enough in my bedroom thanks. But having settled down to watch Jay-Z headline the Pyramid stage I was bewildered by the combination of rapper, live band and CD mix.
They said it couldn’t be done. Glastonbury belongs to guitars and rock, none of this hip hop stuff they said. Maybe they were scared? A black man taking the main stage at the most prestigious music festival the UK has to offer the world is a bold statement, like it or not. I wouldn’t put it past the mainstream press to hold their reservations not only down to the music, but to the colour of a man’s skin.
But with all this pressure mounting on his back, Jay-Z has come blasting out of the stage and has, for the most part, put on an amazing show. It just goes to prove that despite the ‘haters’, hip hop can be just as fascinatingly exciting a live show to watch as Radiohead. At the start of his set the predominantly white, probably middle class crowd cheered Oasis‘ name as Jay-Z ripped into Wonderwall. But it was Jay-Z’s name being chanted at the end of his enthusiastic and high octane set, certainly a damn more exciting sight to behold than Coldplay.
I’m going to leave it at that – I think bringing hip-hop to Glastonbury was a great idea, and Jay-Z was just the right ambassador for the genre in it’s moment in the spotlight. Articulate, confident and most importantly, incredibly talented, his show should silence any critics. Except for Zane Lowe, who is impossible to shut up. One day Lowe, one day…