Jay-Z and his friends, including Snoop Dogg, Ja Rule, Busta Rhymes and Mary J. Blige, have rampaged stages in New York and New Jersey for five straight nights in the wake of the Best of Both Worlds tour cancellation. Now the MC with the flawless flow is heading down South for at least one more show.
According to a spokesperson for Jay, he'll take the stage Friday at the American Airlines Arena in Miami — a date that was supposed to be headlined by Hov and R. Kelly.
On Saturday, the Best of Both Worlds tour was officially canceled, and each headliner has pointed the finger of blame at the other (see "Jay-Z, R. Kelly Part Ways As Best Of Both Worlds Tour Collapses"). Kelly has even filed a $75 million lawsuit for loss of income and punitive damages (see "R. Kelly Sues Jay-Z For $75 Million, Claims Sabotage"). He claims that in addition to wrongfully backing out of the tour, Jay-Z tried to sabotage his stage lighting. The R. also alleges that a member of Jay-Z's crew pepper-sprayed him Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
For his part, Jay claims Kelly's jealousy of him caused the R. to cancel a few shows and that the singer used technical difficulties as a poor excuse. Jay says the Pied Piper has been irrational and inconsistent, behavior that makes the tour unsafe to continue.
Friday was the last straw for Jay. Kelly left the stage after telling the crowd that two men in the audience were flashing guns at him. Jay then brought out the likes of Usher, Mary J. Blige and T.I. to help him complete the program. For the past few nights, Jay has continued to solicit support onstage from an A-list roster of performers.
"There is no way that we would sit and watch someone who has contributed so much to our music and culture like Jay-Z be abandoned the way he was abandoned by this R. Kelly dude," said Busta Rhymes, who's been performing at the Jay-Z-headlined shows since Saturday. "We understand the importance of our responsibility to our fans and to hip-hop. It doesn't surprise me, because R. Kelly ain't hip-hop. In any event, the gift of the situation superseded the curse because as a result of the curse came [five] nights of hip-hop history."
Jay-Z brings out the stars at Madison Square Garden
"I'm a friend of Jay-Z, and I would have to say I'm also a friend of R. Kelly," P. Diddy said. "It's a tough situation to be in the middle of, but you gotta understand that we are all artists and we gotta have each other's backs. That's what friends are for. I don't really like the way it went down, but at the same time I'm trying to keep it positive."
Monday night at MSG, Diddy reiterated his stance on unity, addressing the crowd after he performed his verse from "Victory."
"We got a saying in hip-hop: 'The mutha----in' show must go on,' " said Diddy, who even sang a little piece of "That's What Friends Are For" before performing "I Need a Girl Part 2" and "Bad Boy for Life." He then brought out Black Rob for "Whoa!"
All the excitement seemed to be getting to hip-hop's marathon man, as he started gasping for air while holding the microphone. "I can't breathe," he said. "Can somebody help me breathe?"
Shortly after Diddy feigned fainting, Fabolous came out and performed "Breathe" to a raucous ovation.
Earlier in the night, the party thrived with Q-Tip and Busta Rhymes performing "The Scenario," Raekwon the Chef rapping "Incarcerated Scarfaces," and Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh tearing down the room with their duets. Ja Rule was also showered with love as he did "NY," and toward the end, Pharrell Williams came out to the sounds of his "Frontin'."
Skateboard P didn't sing, however. He informed Jay-Z that it was no longer an R&B show; then the producer brought out Snoop Dogg.
When the show ended, with Jay performing "Big Pimpin'," all of his guests, including Kanye West, T.I. and Foxy Brown, came out and celebrated with him.
There is no word yet on who Jay will bring to Miami or whether he plans to continue filling the remaining would-be Best of Both Worlds dates with his all-star efforts.
Meanwhile, the Pied Piper remains pretty quiet. His publicist said the singer would love to be on the road right now and is contemplating his own tour. Currently, there are no plans to shoot any videos or officially release any more singles from Kelly's Happy People/U Saved Me double album.
And if you're thinking that a Best of Both Worlds video may be in the can, popping up if and when this storm blows over, stop. Jay and Kelly have not shot any clips for their current Unfinished Business LP, and even before the duo broke up, they were not planning on it.
"This was a project that I'm really proud of because of its music," Jay-Z explained on Thursday, explaining why there were no video plans. "All these things just snowballed. The [concert at Madison Square] Garden happened, the movie ['Fade to Black'] happened. The tour talks happened the night of [the show at the Garden] because of the response that happened when [R. Kelly and I] came out. We put together a tour, and we was like, 'We should have some new music to be on tour.' We set out to make two new records to put on the original album, and four days later we have 11 records.
"So it was one of those things where we just had music," he added. "Let's just put out the music. Let's not concentrate on over-promoting. I think we need to do more of that. Whatever it sells, it sells. People who really love the music, they have the music."