On Thursday night (September 2), Eminem and Jay-Z took over Detroit’s Comerica Park and delivered an epic concert that ranks up there with one of the hugest nights in hip-hop history. The pair of them obviously delivered incredible performances, but they also trotted out a cavalcade of extra-special guests for collaborations and special appearances. Dr. Dre, D12, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Drake, Young Jeezy and Memphis Bleek all made appearances on stage to drop guest verses and hype up the crowd on some of the biggest songs in the history of rap music (including a run through Dre’s “Nuthin’ But a ’G’ Thang,” with Eminem taking Snoop Dogg’s iconic lines).
The whole spectacle, with some of the biggest names in hip-hop (and thus the biggest names in all of music) all sharing stage time, recalled another great event in music history: “The Last Waltz,” the gigantic retirement concert by the Band. Captured by Martin Scorsese for one of the best concert films ever made, “The Last Waltz” featured another cavalcade of performers who came out on stage at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on November 25, 1976. How do the icons of the ’60s match up with their 21st century hip-hop counterparts? You’d be surprised how well it works out.
Eminem = Robbie Robertson
The alpha dog of all the proceedings, Eminem ran his hometown stadium like a private VIP lounge, inviting only his closest confidantes and biggest star pals. Though the Band never really had a true frontman (the singing duties were shared among four guys), Robertson was usually the one running the show.
Jay-Z = Levon Helm
Never as flashy or as loud as Robertson, Helm was always the more beloved member of the Band — a quiet, contemplative guy who loved music and secretly wrote better songs. Jay-Z may not have grabbed the headlines at the Detroit show (though wait until the pair arrive at Yankee Stadium in two weeks), but he still delivered a devastating performance.
Dr. Dre = Bob Dylan
The Band got their big break back when they were known as the Hawks and they backed up a folk star looking to turn up the volume on his songs. That guy’s name was Bob Dylan, and he gave the Band a leg up just like Dre did for Eminem (and, indirectly, Jay as well — he did, after all, bring hardcore rap to the radio).
Drake = Neil Young
They’re both feisty, both nail a half-singing/half-rapping style and are both Canadian.
50 Cent = Eric Clapton
Everybody calls 50 Cent “Slowhand,” right? They don’t? Oh well.
Lloyd Banks = Neil Diamond
Every show needs somebody to smooth things out, and for the first Home and Home concert, that was Banks. Diamond’s turn on “Dry Your Eyes” was one of the mellower highlights of “The Last Waltz,” just as Banks’ mellowness kept everybody grounded for the more explosive parts of the show later (like when Dr. Dre showed up).
D12 = Muddy Waters and Pinetop Perkins
Legends have to start somewhere, and for Eminem, his old crew represents his roots on the streets of Detroit. Waters and Perkins, two blues legends who continued to perform well into their 80s, got it started for just about everyone else involved in “The Last Waltz.”
Young Jeezy = Dr. John
Each one had the most unique voice of the night, and they both perform with an incredibly contagious sense of joy. Jeezy loses a few points because he doesn’t have John’s awesome beard.
Memphis Bleek = Joni Mitchell
Because you always sort of forget that both of them were there, but you cannot deny either of their impact. Both Bleek and Mitchell create a quiet storm, and the whole show would be different without them.