Jay Z held the first of his two Tidal X: B-Sides shows Saturday night at New York’s Terminal 5, and in addition to a setlist stocked with never-before-performed-live fan favorites and forgotten deep cuts, the rapper also used the gig as a pulpit to attack Spotify and pay tribute to B.B. King.
During a mid-performance freestyle, Jay Z the mogul took aim at his streaming competitors like Google’s YouTube and Apple. “Jimmy Iovine offered a safety net / Google dangled around a crazy check / I feel like YouTube was the biggest culprit / Them niggas pay you a tenth of what you supposed to get,” the rapper said about streaming royalties (via the Verge). “You know I came to this game independent, right? That’s true / Tidal, my own label, same difference / Oh, niggas are skeptical if its their own shit / You bought nine iPhones and Steve Jobs is rich / Phil Knight worth trillions, you still bought those kicks / Spotify is nine billion and they ain’t say shit.”
Jay Z saved his sharpest barbs for his main streaming adversary Spotify, who the rapper previously accused of “spending millions on a smear campaign” against his new service. “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do / The only one they hatin’ on looks the same as you,” Jay Z said. “It’s cool, I know they’re trying to bamboozle you / Spending millions on me to try to confuse you / I had to talk to myself, ‘Hov, you’re used to it’ / It’s politics as usual.” Jay Z and his band then launched into the first live rendition of Reasonable Doubt‘s “Politics as Usual” in nearly a decade.
The B-Sides gig also featured rare performances of tracks that spanned his entire catalog, from Reasonable Doubt‘s “D’evils” and American Gangster‘s “Party Life” to The Blueprint‘s Kanye West-produced “Never Change” and The Hits Collection bonus cut “Young, Gifted and Black.” Over the course of the two-hour concert, which streamed live exclusively on Tidal, the rapper was also joined by special guests Jay Electronica, Jeezy, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek and Just Blaze.
“We just lost a legend. As you see, we’re playing hip-hop, we’re playing rock, we’re playing blues. I mean, hip-hop incorporates all that shit. It’s only music, it’s all music; we just use different instruments,” Jay Z told the crowd. “We lost a legend, B.B. King. And I just wanted to play something for him real quick, just to give him a moment of silence. You can put your lighter in the air, you can put your hand in the air. Just stand there and let’s get one moment of silence.” The rapper then played a portion of King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” over Terminal 5’s sound system. “Hip-hop is the blues,” Jay Z said at the end of the tribute.
Watch Jay Z’s entire B-Sides concert below. The rapper will take the stage for the second night of this Tidal-only event Sunday night in New York.