Jay-Z, DJ Clue?, Redman, DMX and Method Man pose during a photo session after announcing their 40-city Hard Knock Life Tour in New York on January 26, 1999.
The tour was
the first multi-group hip-hop tour in almost a decade, featuring many of hip hop’s biggest names. When announced many mainstream media outlets theorized that the tour would be cancelled; with some saying heated competition between rap acts would erupt in backstage violence, and gang violence would be perpetrated in the crowd.
”People were saying someone’s going to die on that tour,” Damon Dash recalled in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in May 1999, but after 11 weeks on the road, playing in sold-out arenas from Canada to Texas, ”there was no violence and no fights.” Declaring it 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.”
The Hard Knock Life Tour sold out 52 arenas,earned $18 million and suffered no cancellations, no artist drop-offs, or any incidents of violence.
The rappers took a further stand against violence by dedicating their personal earnings from their Colorado concert to the victims of the Columbine High School shooting. The tour was chronicled in the September 2000 documentary film Backstage,
featuring live performances by the tour’s roster and an in-depth look at the events backstage. The film grossed
$496,226 at the box office during its limited-release opening weekend. Presented by DJ Clue?, the majority of the soundtrack,
Backstage: A Hard Knock Life, was recorded on tour buses while the acts traveled around North America. The album was certified Gold three months after its release.