Jay-Z kicked off the new season of Saturday Night Live with host Ryan Gosling on September 30, with spirited performances of two tracks off 4:44 — and a supportive gesture for Colin Kaepernick that spoke volumes, even if he didn't say a word about the quarterback and activist.
Taking the camo-printed stage in a black jersey with COLIN K and the number 7 emblazoned on it, Jay-Z began with "Bam," his collaboration with Damian Marley. The reggae-inflected single made for an energetic start for Hov, and he spent much of his first song with his back to the audience as he circled Marley, a move that let the audience see Kaep's name clear as day.
Jay-Z has publicly backed Kaepernick before, and shouted him out at the 2017 Meadows Festival in New York City.
For "4:44," one of the most personal (and difficult) cuts off his album, Jay-Z changed into a plain white tee and ditched the vivid backdrop for the most minimal set-up he could get. With little more than the spotlight and the backing track, he rolled through his apologetic bars, rarely looking up from the mic.
As far as SNL musical guest performances go, this one was a solid mix of entertainment, raw emotion, and a nod to our current climate — so here's hoping the rest of the season measures up.