Jay-Z: PictureL Supplied
Before 4:44, most rap fans were quarter to obsessed over Jay Z. More so when he decided he was going to retire from the rap game in 2003. The Black Album had just come out and he’d cemented his place in hip hop.

“Best rapper alive, ni99a ask about me,” he’d rapped. It became a catchphrase. His farewell tour would conclude with a star-studded concert at Madison Square Garden. So, naturally, the entire lead-up and actual concert had to be recorded.

This resulted in Fade To Black, a concert film. Now if someone would return my DVD, all will be well in the world. But while I wait, here’s what you can look forward to when Fade To Black airs on BET on Saturday.

Literally everyone who was anyone was there. Sure, Kanye claimed that he was told to buy two tickets to the show but, if you really know a thing or two about rap (refer to aforementioned obsessed fans) then you’ll know that Kanye misled people into thinking Jay was stingy with access and forced his own then-friend and label signee to pay his way into the gig.

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In fact, what actually happened was Kanye was given four tickets to the show but he wanted two more. To the biggest concert in rap history at that point? Nah fam. So, those two extra tickets is what he was told he could buy. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on to what’s actually in the film.

Viewers are given an all-access pass into the actual event. From the fan reactions in the crowd to the shenanigans backstage - like Ghostface Killah not having a dressing room - to performances with Beyonce.

Some of the people who appear on the film include one of the best hype-men ever, Memphis Bleek. I wonder if Blue’s birth (and then Sir and Rumi) bumped him off Jay’s will. But I digress. So Memph is in it. And so is Mary J Blige, Foxy Brown - with a wardrobe malfunction, naturally - and Diddy as well as others.

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The concert itself is great. But what probably makes this film even more interesting is all the things Jay goes through in order to make the concert the success that it was. The viewer sees how monumental it is to have achieved what a former drug dealer with a gift for storytelling has.

So, in a sense, it’s emotional. It’s also funny to watch his banter with Questlove since The Roots band backs Jay on stage. There are too many moments to mention.

And of course, Jay has since gone on to release a number of albums after this “retirement” but for that moment in time, Fade To Black was a big deal.

* Fade To Black is on BET (DStv Channel 129) on September 16 at 8pm.

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