jay z

Jay-Z, Just Blaze, Kid Capri, T.I., Mary J. Blige, P. Diddy, Foxy Brown, Slick Rick and Memphis Bleek, photographed backstage after the “Jay-Z and Friends” concert at the Madison Square Garden by Johnny Nunez on November 1, 2004. 

The show was meant to be the final night of the five-date New York stop of Hov and R. Kelly’s “Best of Both Worlds Tour,” but the promoters fired R. Kelly before the final two shows due to the culmination of increasingly erratic and disruptive behavior throughout the tour.

On the Friday evening show at the MSG Kelly had abruptly bolted from the show, claiming that his life was in jeopardy. He told the crowd that while he was trying to perform, “two people were waving guns at me,” and declined to perform further. Kelly would later claim that a member of Jay-Z’s entourage, Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith, pepper-sprayed him when he tried to return to the stage. Ty Ty was arrested and charged with third-degree assault, later pleading guilty to disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to two days of anger-management counseling, and was ordered to complete four days of community service. 

Shortly after Jay told the crowd, “Fuck that! I got this shit myself, New York. Give me my old-school shit! I got hits!“ He asked them to give him a few minutes to put a set together, and then, accompanied by Mary J. Blige, T.I., Usher, Ja Rule, Freeway, the Young Gunz, and Bleek, managed to deliver a hit-filled set on short notice. Halfway through he announced to the screaming crowd: “I don’t need that nigga. I got y'all. Y'all ain’t gonna miss him for one second. Y'all gonna go home thoroughly entertained.” The next day the promoters issued a short statement saying Kelly would not attend the next three shows. In an interview with Angie Martinez on Hot 97 early Saturday morning, Jay called out his tour partner: “Is that not absolutely bonkers?” he angrily said about Kelly’s gun theory. “That’s Madison Square Garden. You cannot get a gun in Madison Square Garden. Does he know where he’s at?” Hov claimed Kelly was envious, saying: “He has problems with the love people give me. He’s insecure with himself … This is just disrespectful. Everybody better grab their [’Best of Both Worlds’] albums, because that’s it.”

On Saturday, Sunday and Monday Jay re-branded the show as the “Jay-Z and Friends” concert, and proceeded to bring out an astounding amount of special guests every night. As well as those picture above, Ja Rule, Raekwon, Pharrell Williams, Q-Tip, Fabolous, Doug E. Fresh, Busta Rhymes, Kanye West, Black Rob and Snoop Dogg joined Jigga on-stage during the three-date run. “There is no way that we would sit and watch someone who has contributed so much to our music and culture like Jay-Z be abandoned the way he was abandoned by this R. Kelly dude,” said Busta Rhymes to MTV News. “We understand the importance of our responsibility to our fans and to hip-hop. It doesn’t surprise me, because R. Kelly ain’t hip-hop. In any event, the gift of the situation superseded the curse because as a result of the curse came [five] nights of hip-hop history." 

Jay-Z with rookie of the year LeBron James and his mother Gloria, photographed at an event presenting James with the NBA’s “Eddie Gottlieb Trophy” at the NBA Store in New York City, by Johnny Nunez on April 20, 2004.

At the time James was the only player in Cleveland Cavaliers history to be named the “Rookie of the Year,” and was the youngest player in NBA history to capture the honor.

Hov met James through his longtime friend William "Worldwide Wes” Wesley at the beginning of 2003, in a meeting organized after the young player told Wes that Hov was his idol. On connecting with James so quickly and strongly Hov told Elliott Wilson in 2013 that, “we come from the same neighborhood. The same things [happened to us] … ‘Your Mom’s name is Gloria? Mine’s is too!’ Our story is so similar, it’s the same thing. And, you know, [like me] he’s pushing the culture forward in another way.”