A troika of rap royalty graced the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater last night, as Jay-Z and Eminem played The Late Show With David Letterman while Diddy looked on approvingly from a seat on the sidelines.
Before the performance, “Jay” and “Em,” as Letterman learned to refer to them, did the typical Late Show shtick. Eminem read the Top 10, which included groaners like “Don’t get mixed up with drugs, gangs or oil executives,” but actually made it funnier by announcing them with a face so straight it looked like someone just shot his dog backstage. Eminem has always been adept at pretending not to be in on the joke, thus making things awkward-hilarious. Remember this? Jay-Z’s interview with Letterman, on the other hand, was definitely more on the awkward side than the hilarious side. After a bit of banter, the ever-chuckling host laid a trap for the rap-star/mogul/multiple retiree when they got to the subject of whether Lebron James should come to New York. Being part-owner of the Nets, Jay-Z was not against such a prospect, but Letterman quickly launched into a populist declaration that Lebron should stay in Cleveland and not “cut the heart out of that city.” The audience, many of which must have taken a day trip from Ohio, sided with Letterman and gave Cleveland so much love that I was expecting things to burst into the opening credits of The Drew Carey Show. Jay-Z could only peer out sheepishly from under his hat brim.
But he regained his composure once he got to the roof. Following a solid rendition from Eminem of his new single “Not Afraid,” the self-proclaimed Greatest Rapper Alive took the stage and performed the heck out of the chant-like “On to the Next One,” smiling and working the audience from a bunch of strangers awkwardly swaying and confusedly pointing into something resembling an actual crowd. Eminem then joined him for their Blueprint collaboration “Renegade,” giving everyone a taste of what to expect come September when the two play concerts scheduled in Detroit and New York
Those who caught the show, what did you think? Excited to see the two of them sharing the stage? Anyone hoping Letterman would jump up there with them and do a verse, maybe start a rap feud with Leno?