Hip-hop's heavyweight tour takes in a record-setting $18 million
Hip-hop’s heir apparent, Jay-Z, showed up at Manhattan’s swank China Club Tuesday afternoon to rap about the success of his just-completed Hard Knock Life Tour. (Named after his 1999 Grammy-winning rap album, the concert series was the first multi-group hip-hop tour in almost a decade.) Jay-Z was accompanied by his label head, Roc-A-Fella Records’ Damon Dash, and fellow performers from the Tour, Method Man, Redman, and DJ Clue. As media types like MTV’s Kurt Loder rubbed elbows in the blue-lit club with Russell Simmons and other industry leaders, Dash dispelled the myth that a rap tour with competing acts would erupt in backstage violence.
”People were saying someone’s going to die on that tour,” Dash recalled, but after 11 weeks on the road, playing in sold-out arenas from Canada to Texas, ”there was no violence and no fights.” (The rappers took a further stand against violence by dedicating their personal earnings from one Colorado concert to the victims of the Columbine High School shooting.) Declaring Hard Knock ”the most successful hip-hop tour ever,” Dash unabashedly went on to say, ”we set a precedent not just for rap tours, but for all music tours.”
Apparently those heady feelings of success, along with gross profits that totaled $18 million, have inspired some of the rappers to continue in the collaborative spirit. Method Man and Redman confirmed that they are working together on a new album. ”It’s not titled yet, and all we’re doing is writing right now,” Method Man admitted, but ”it’s supposed to be out this fall.” Jay-Z, sporting a plain white T-shirt and his trademark platinum chain, said he’ll continue to fly solo, with a new album expected to drop around Dec. 26. And he added some much-needed humor to the otherwise staid event by taking a shot at the heartthrob Latin crooner who’s risen, seemingly overnight, to challenge him on the charts: ”I’m really surprised to see that after witnessing our monumental tour, people are rushing to see Ricky Martin!” Ouch.