Jay-Z was the penultimate act honored in the 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tonight. His introductory video contained a huge list of celebrities and significant figures, including Beyoncé, LeBron James, Chris Rock, Sean Combs and Samuel L. Jackson. After the video, there was another pre-recorded message from former President Barack Obama, and then Dave Chappelle gave Jay-Z’s formal introductory speech.
“I have turned to Jay-Z’s words at various times in my life, whether I brushed dirt off my shoulder on the campaign trail or tasted his lyrics on Edmund Pettus Bridge on the 50th anniversary of the Selma March to Montgomery,” former President Obama said “Today, Jay-Z is one of the most acclaimed artists in history and an embodiment of the American dream, a dream he has helped make a reality for other young people like him.”
“I want to apologize – I’m just fucking with you,” Chappelle began his speech, possibly alluding to the backlash to his recent Netflix special. “It’s an incredible honor to induct this next man into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But I need everyone in rock’n’roll to know that even if you honor him, he’s ours. He’s hip hop. Forever and ever and one day. “
“I would look at these guys, and you know they had big rope chains, and they wore leather, and sometimes even the red-black-green medallions, and whatever they wore, everyone would wear on the next day,” said Jay-Z in his thank you speech, which also refers to LL Cool J. “And I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to be like those guys.’ And then I went on my journey and wrote at my desk – shout up to Dr. Gloria Carter in the house, she bought the green notebook for me. “
“We were like we wanted to create our own business, you know? It’s hip hop. And we created this company called Roc-A-Fella Records,” Jay-Z said later. “Shout up to Dame [Dash]; I know we do not see eye to eye, but I can never delete your performance, and I appreciate you and thank you for that. And shout up to [Kareem] ‘Biggs’ [Burke]; he is one of the most honorable people I have ever met. We created something that will probably never be duplicated. ”
Find parts of the introductory video, Obama’s speech, Chappelle’s speech and Jay-Z’s acceptance speech below.
In addition to Jay-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner, the Go-Goes and the Foo Fighters were recorded this year. Kraftwerk, Gil Scott-Heron and Charley Patton were all honored with Early Influence Awards; LL Cool J, Billy Preston and Randy Rhoads were celebrated with the Musical Excellence Award. After last year’s remote ceremony, the celebration returned for personal treatment this year.
Follow Pitchfork’s full coverage of the 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.