UNIONDALE, New York — When hip-hop’s reigning microphone king needed a little help driving home the point that he wasn’t about to relinquish his crown anytime soon, he simply placed a call to none other than the self-proclaimed King of Pop.
Jay-Z, the headliner at Thursday’s Hot 97 Summer Jam 2001, shocked the sold-out crowd at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum when he brought Michael Jackson onstage during a break in his performance. Although M.J. didn’t perform — not live, anyway, considering a sample of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” was used in the set-closing “H to the Izzo” — just his presence was enough to elicit the loudest pop of the night from a crowd that had already seen performances by Ja Rule, Destiny’s Child, R. Kelly, Ludacris, Eve, Nelly and Outkast. (Click HERE for photos from Summer Jam.)
“I know Michael Jackson better come from behind that muthaf—in’ curtain,” Jay-Z said during what had to be 90 of the longest seconds of his career. Jigga had just announced Jackson to the crowd, but the music icon failed to make his entrance. The audience seemed to think Jay was joking — who would expect Jackson to appear at such a hip-hop-heavy concert?
But Jay quickly figured out that with cargo as precious as this, it’s probably best to hand-deliver it to the crowd.
“You want me to go back and get him myself?” Jay asked a girl in the front row. “OK, I’m ’a go get him.”
Seconds later the two walked out and posed for photos together. In one of the pictures, Michael struck a b-boy stance with his arms folded. Jackson’s only words to the crowd were “I love you all” before he exited the stage, but Jay-Z fans can expect to hear more from him. According to Roc-a-Fella Records, Jackson will make a guest appearance on Jay’s next album, and although Jay attempted to return the favor, his contributions are not currently scheduled to appear on Jackson’s long-awaited new LP.
Jackson wasn’t the only guest Jay brought out with him, however. His Roc-a-Family crew Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek stayed onstage with him throughout the performance, and Missy Elliott popped up to perform “Is That Your Chick” and a verse from “Get Ur Freak On.” Violin player Miri Benari was brought onboard for “Big Pimpin’,” while EPMD showed support for Beans and Bleek by performing “So Wat Cha Sayin'” with them before Erick Sermon went into “Music.”
Jay began his set by arriving onstage backed by what seemed to be all the tenants of Brooklyn’s Marcy Houses project. He told everyone how focused he was before going into his verses from Mya’s “Best of Me” remix.
“There’s a lot of sh– going on in rap music,” he stopped to tell his fans. “A lot of cats yappin’. Y’all know what I do — your boy handles his business.”
Jay then started to freestyle, shooting back at everyone who’s been dissing him lately. Hardest hit was Prodigy of Mobb Deep. Not only did Jay make fun of P’s small frame by saying, “We got money stacks bigger than you,” but Jigga poked fun at the Queens rapper’s past, saying, “You’s a ballerina, I seen ya,” and showing photos of an adolescent Prodigy at his grandmother’s dancing school. The photos, displayed on four huge screens that hung over the stage, showed Prodigy in leotards and a sparkling jacket.
But the fire Jay spit was nothing compared to the venom the audience spewed on Destiny’s Child. The crowed booed in unison as soon as the group was introduced. On the song “So Good,” Beyoncé Knowles put a little more bass and feeling in her voice when she sang, “This is for the haters who thought we wouldn’t make it.”
Keeping their game faces on, the girls finished their set, closing with “Survivor,” but their determination did not impress the crowd, which booed after practically every song — especially when the girls would taunt the audience back by sarcastically saying, “Thank you.”
Although the audience members showed R. Kelly love, they were left disappointed by his relatively brief performance. He didn’t do either of his two hit songs with Jay-Z or his current single, “Feelin’ on Yo Booty.” His show was limited to “Home Alone,” during which he brought out Keith Murray, “I Wish” and its remix, and an a cappella rendition of “R&B Thug.”
Jadakiss proved you could make your appearance short but still keep it sweet. Coming out toward the end of Eve’s set, ’Kiss received an ovation that was only overshadowed by Jay-Z’s and M.J.’s as he performed “Put Your Hands Up” and “We Gon’ Make It.”
For the past two years, Summer Jam’s luster was somewhat tarnished by violent outbreaks because of the people bumrushing the doors of the concert’s former home, New Jersey’s Continental Airlines Arena. This year you had to show your ticket just to get into the coliseum’s parking lot, cutting down on unruly loiterers.
“I don’t think anybody is thinking about [violence],” said one audience member. “Everybody is here to have a good time. You know how long we all been waiting to see this show?”