This month, long-lost video footage of Jay-Z’s iconic performance at Summer Jam 2001 gone viral on Twitter.
For decades, the moment has been steeped in apocrypha and mystery. Fans told stories about what happened during Jay-Z’s set (including a guest appearance by Michael Jackson), but aside from audio snippets that didn’t tell the whole story, there was little documentation of actual performance.
There were more questions than answers about what happened that day. What did Michael Jackson do on stage? Were there any Roc-A-Fella soldiers on stage during “Takeover”? What gesture did Jay make when he sadly rapped, “Ask Nas, he don’t want with Hov!” We had no indication of the performance aside from the screams of the crowd and Jay-Z’s infamous stoicism after the performance. It was clear that he made history, but we had no idea what that epic moment looked like. Until now.
Thanks to rap archivist Claudio Abreu, the hour-long set was finally unearthed this month. And he can’t remember how he got the grainy footage in the first place. It was just another tape in a great vault of historical hip-hop footage he’s been collecting for decades.
“My theory is that someone who knew someone came to my house and was like, ‘Claudio, since you’re such a huge Jay-Z fan, check this out,'” he told Complex. In his recollection, someone showed him the tape shortly after the performance, and he was “not impressed” because of the quality of the video and the freshness of the moment. “It’s not old [at that point]. I don’t know if that’s going to be a missing part of hip-hop again.