NEW YORK — Eight years ago, during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] was several thousand miles away, in California, feeling helpless as he watched his hometown in chaos.
"I was Los Angeles shooting a video for 'Girls, Girls, Girls' and got a phone call," Jay recalled at a press conference in New York on Monday (August 31) about his September 11 benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. "A friend of mine told me to turn on the TV. It looked like a movie to me, it didn't look like anything that could be real.
"The last thing I thought about was an album," he said, referring to the release date of his first album in the Blueprint series, which was hit stores that dark day. "The first thing I thought about was, 'What happens from here? What happens tomorrow? How will this continue?' I was in Los Angeles and there wasn't anything I could do."
Eight years later, he's doing something. The Brooklyn native is headlining the "Answer the Call" tribute concert on the anniversary off the September 11 attacks, and is also releasing the third album in the trilogy, The Blueprint 3, on that day.
To mark the occasion, Jay-Z partnered with the New York Police & Fire Widows' & Children's Benefit Fund for the show, presented in conjunction with Fuse, Absolut and Live Nation. All proceeds from the event will go to the charity, and the performance will air commercial-free and stream online on Fuse's Web site. Tickets for the concert go on sale September 8 at noon ET.
Monday's press conference was attended by a number of officials, including New York Governor David Paterson.
For Jay-Z, the experience is an honor he isn't taking lightly.
"I'm humbled by this whole entire process," he told MTV News after the conference. "Just my whole evolution coming to this place. It just all worked out this way. The first album came out on this exact day, I was in Los Angeles and couldn't help out physically. For it to come full circle and us to be here and play Madison Square Garden and 100 percent of the proceeds going to [the charity]. I'm just humbled by the experience."
After the press conference, a woman who lost her brother — a policeman — in the 9/11 tragedy handed Jay a bracelet that her brother wore.
"This makes it real," Jay-Z said while holding the gift. "Someone really lost their brother, he sacrificed his life for others. You're humbled by those types of acts of heroism. You only hope to live up to that type of courage and strength. I'm doing a concert, I'm entertaining. At the end of the day I'm doing a great thing, but it's not what this guy has done."