NEW YORK — Kanye West closed his Glow in the Dark show at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night with a major announcement: He's producing tracks for Jay-Z's next album, Blueprint 3. And Hova just so happened to be on hand to premiere one of the album's tracks.
After the last song of his performance, Kanye told the crowd that 20 years from now, they would be recognizing him and some of his peers, such as Glow in the Dark tourmate Pharrell Williams, as some of the all-time greats. Acknowledging his great success and loss in the past year, he told the audience — which included Q-Tip and Andre 3000 — that he was evolving and not going to be as selfish as he was in the past. ('Ye gave another reflective speech during Tuesday's MSG show.)
A story followed of how when he's in the studio producing tracks, he'll usually snatch the beat for himself, unless his friend and G.O.O.D. Music act Common is there. But on a recent trip to Hawaii, West said he changed his M.O. While in the studio in paradise, he told himself, "Every beat I do is for this person."
He promised to play a track for the concertgoers, but didn't tell them he had a bonus. As the bass kicked in for a song that is sure to heat up the clubs and streets before the summer is done, Jay-Z walked out and started to rap. (Kanye has posted video of the song on his blog.)
You would have needed the computer-chip-enhanced hearing of the Bionic Woman to make out everything the Brooklyn native was saying over the roar of the crowd. But his rap started off with a reference to his recent verbal dust-up with Oasis leader Noel Gallagher, who objected to a hip-hop artist (Jay) headlining England's traditionally rock-oriented Glastonbury festival earlier this summer: "That bloke from Oasis said I couldn't play guitar / Somebody shoulda told him I'm a f---in' rock star." He went on to rap about his female fans, including the line, "I'm like, 'Life ain't fair/ Chill, baby girl, my girl is here.' "
Kanye kept yelling a chorus that sounded like "Jockin' Jay-Z, jockin' Jay-Z." And there was no mistaking Jigga's call of "Blueprint 3," getting the crowd excited for the second sequel to one of the cornerstones of his lauded catalog of classics. Rumors of the album began this January, when a track called "Ain't I" leaked, but Jay's reps denied that the song was new.
Jay and Kanye gave no other details about the project before exiting. The spectators mixed chants of "Kaaan-yaaaay!" and "Hov-vvvvvaaaaah!" well after the house lights came on.
"I really went to see the show," Jay explained to Angela Yee and Elliott Wilson on Sirius radio's Shade 45 morning show Thursday. "I walk into the dressing room, and [Kanye's] like, 'Let's do a record. Let's do this.' I'm like, 'C'mon, man.' But you know, I couldn't tell him no. It's his show. That was the idea; he wanted to [perform] a new record."
Hov said he didn't know if the Blueprint 3 would be coming out this year, but there are tracks for it in the can. He also acknowledged a recent MTV News article in which Timbaland said the two of them had talked about making an entire album together.
"We spoke about doing an album; it just was premature," Jay explained.
When the first Blueprint came out in 2001, some critics and fans said it was as good or even better than his discography's crown jewel, Reasonable Doubt. West's production on Blueprint, for records such as "Never Change," "The Takeover" and lead cut "Izzo," was his conduit to eventual superstardom. Oddly enough, Jay premiered the first record from that LP while performing onstage as well, at the 2001 BET Awards.
[This story was originally published at 9:00 a.m. ET on 08.07.2007]