For the first episode of his new AOL-sponsored online talk show, "The Tanning Effect," Steve Stoute tapped none other than rap superstar and business tycoon Jay-Z to sit opposite him for a one-on-one interview. In their talk, Jay held forth on the global appeal of hip hop and more.
"I think hip hop is global in the same way jazz was," he says, when asked about the worldwide success of his album with Kanye West, Watch the Throne. "In the early days of jazz, Quincy Jones and them were touring overseas before they were even allowed to play clubs in the South.... Hip hop was a youth movement that didn't really have boundaries outside of America."
Jay said he always had faith that an album like WTT, which launched without a hit radio single, would still fare well internationally.
"Hip hop spoke directly to people and the way they were feeling, so I wasn't really surprised that an album that didn't have a big, huge crossover single would still resonate with people around the world, because that's how it started," he said. "It was almost like an old-school approach to making music."
And when did hip hop's inherent crossover appeal first hit him? Hov said it happened during the Hard Knock Life Tour of 1998, which featured an all hip hop lineup of himself, DMX, Method Man and Redman. Despite initial concerns from industry figures about broadening the tour's appeal with a more diverse lineup, Jay said the audience turn out ended up being about 80 percent white people.
"They just dominated it," he said. "An all rap concert."