Jay-Z's 'Empire' strikes back as rapper cancels shows, enhances Rihanna's return, goes Broadway
It seems unbelievable, but Jay-Z is finally getting his first, very own No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart tomorrow.
"Empire State of Mind" featuring Alicia Keys, rises 6-1 on the tally, a change that will be reflected on tomorrow's chart. Hov has spent time at the summit three other times before, but always as a guest vocalist: on Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker," Rihanna's "Umbrella" and his now-wife's 2003 hit "Crazy in Love."
"Empire" was featured on his "Blueprint 3" album, released all the way back in September. The track has enjoyed a surge of attention, as it was used frequently during the World Series in the Yankees v. Phillies stand-off, and with radio stations increasinly picking it up for airplay. He and Keys just released a video for the track, as well as a sequel, "Empire State of Mind, Part II." That song will be on Keys' forthcoming album "The Element of Freedom," due Dec. 15. You can hear the track below.
Speaking of Rihanna's "Umbrella," Jay-Z helped that singer perform it at her first concert in promoting "Rated R" (due Nov. 23). He made a surprise appearance at London's Brixton Academy on Monday (Nov. 16), as did Jeezy, rapping on "Hurt," a song included on "Rated R." The whole of Rihanna's concert was webcasted live, from Nokia, and you can see some select clips already here.
As for Jay-Z's own tour, he canceld the last three 2009 dates of it, all in Texas, this week. Fans are getting refunds, but basically no explanation. However, as previously reported, he is game for his 2010 tour plans with Jeezy.
Jay-Z has also been named as a producer for a forthcoming Broadway musical centered on the life and work of musician Fela Kuti. Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith are also helping finance the show. Read more on it in this piece by the Associated Press.