- Jay-Z revealed that touring with DMX helped improved his own stage presence.
- He described how the late rapper made “the whole arena” cry when he started a prayer onstage.
- Jay-Z said he had to “figure out my space in this” and “figure out where do I exist” afterward.
Jay-Z recently reflected on the time he witnessed a soul-stirring performance from late rapper DMX.
While in conversation with LeBron James during the season-four premiere of HBO series “The Shop: Uninterrupted,” Jay-Z, 51, opened up about touring with DMX on his Hard Knock Life tour in 1999 and the pressure he felt to match the late rapper’s grandiose stage presence with his own performances.
“There was a competitive thing, but it was big love. He was so competitive with me. I never met a human being more competitive with me, like ever, not even my big brother,” the “Empire State of Mind” singer revealed. “My fondest memory of DMX is he improved my stage show.”
“First night. 360 sold out. Everyone has a great show. Method Man is flying in the audience. Incredible performance. Everyone’s destroying it,” he went on. “X is about to go on, and I’m like, I wanna see.”
“X is going before me. And then he goes [growls], and the f—ing arena goes crazy. First of all, it’s deafening, and I’m like, ‘Oh s—.'”
Jay-Z continued to describe the ways DMX riled up the crowd, including by taking his shirt off halfway through the set and drinking an alcoholic concoction that “looks like blood, like he’s drinking blood.”
He then recalled the moment the “Ruff Ryders’ Anthem” rapper brought the audience to tears.
“First the guys are going crazy, now the girls are going crazy. And then he gets to the end, and he starts a prayer. And now they’re crying, the whole arena is crying. And they’re like, ‘OK, now you go,'” he said.
“I was like, ‘OK I have to figure out my space in this. I have to figure out where do I exist.'”
DMX died on April 9 at the age of 50. He experienced a heart attack triggered by a drug overdose while in his New York home.
Aside from the late Grammy-nominated rapper, Jay-Z also mentioned some other legendary hip-hop artists he used to compare himself to while reflecting on the start of his career.
“I had foolish confidence early on. I remember playing my first demo. When I first said I know how to make songs – I didn’t know how to make songs, I thought at the time – And I played for my uncle and said, ‘Yo, I’m better than LL Cool J,'” he said.
“I kinda came in like, ‘Who’s the biggest emcee?’ Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas. You know, those were the guys at the time. And I believed I was on their level at that time. You know, my first album,” he said.
“So I always had self-confidence and I always knew that I was gonna excel beyond. But you know, you still gotta do it. You could believe it. You could have the belief and it’s just second nature.”
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