madison square garden

Jay-Z and R. Kelly, photographed performing during the final show of their “Best of Both Worlds Tour” at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 29, 2004.

This Friday evening concert was the first of a planned three at the Madison Square Garden; but the promoters, Atlanta Worldwide Touring, fired Kelly after this show due to the culmination of his increasingly erratic and disruptive behavior throughout the tour. During this show Kelly abruptly bolted from the stage 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 refused to perform further. Kelly would later claim that a member of Jay-Z’s entourage, who we now know to be Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith, pepper-sprayed him when he later tried to return to the stage.

Shortly after Kelly’s departure 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 ex-tour partner: “Is that not absolutely bonkers?” he angrily said about Kelly’s gun theory, calling the story ridiculous: “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.”

Hov also admitted that tensions between the two performers had been growing since the first date. “This is just disrespectful,” he said. “Everybody better grab their [Best of Both Worlds and Unfinished Business] albums, because that’s it … I went way out of my way. The first night [in Chicago] was terrible. I’m waiting in my white suit for two hours. The guy don’t come downstairs … you don’t do that.” On October 23 at the show in St. Louis, the singer had left early and headed to a local McDonalds restaurant. There he proceeded to work a “Drive-Thru” window shift.