In 2008 one of hip-hop’s greatest showmen took to the Glastonbury stage to wow fans with an electrifying performance of his greatest hits and some other controversial songs. Jay-Z was the first ever hip-hop artist to headline the iconic UK festival.
Despite his critics, the Brooklyn emcee wowed fans with his incredible set, which included his legendary Rick Rubin-produced single ’99 Problems’ as well as a snide rendition of Oasis’ anthem ‘Wonderwall.’
In 2008, Jay-Z was ten albums deep and had plenty of quality material to perform. However, the lyricist who was that year’s headliner received some backlash as Glastonbury attempted to diversify its brand. In an interview with BBC following the announcement that the rapper (real name Shawn Carter) would be occupying the festival’s main Saturday slot, Oasis’ Noel Gallagher spoke to the BBC denouncing the line-up asserting, “I’m not having hip hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong. Cancel Kanye West’s headline slot and get a rock band.”
The annual event had been very rock-orientated until 2008. However, as hip-hop became evermore popular, the festival realised it had to accommodate rap music to maintain its relevance. But the purists and more narrow-minded musicians were not keen on the idea. Even electronic genres, such as house and garage, were looked down upon by artists.
Concerning Glastonbury, in 2007, the event’s co-founder Michael Eavis told The Guardian, “My own tastes are not diverse. I like Neil Young, do a bit of Elvis, and a bit of Van Morrison … sometimes I do try to vary it by having a little go at Frank Turner, though.” However, his daughter, Emily Eavis, informed her father of where pop culture was heading.
Rap-Rock collectives such as the Beastie Boys and Cypress Hill had taken to the pyramid stage around the turn of the millennium. However, Jay-Z was the first non-alternative hip-hop artist to headline the festival. Carter performed a medley of his biggest anthems, including ‘Public Service Announcement’, ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’ and ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.)’. However, he also played his Black Album track ‘Encore.’
You can watch his enthralling performance of the song in the video below.