Jay-Z & Eminem’s Letterman Show: Behind the Scenes

On June 20, 2010, Marshall Mathers broke his two-day silence on Twitter with the following message at 05:07 PM: “First 50 fans in NYC that want to come TOMORROW night for my performance on LETTERMAN email: emonletterman@gmail.com Must be 25 yrs w/ID.”  As the words flashed across my MacBook screen, all of the blood in my body flushed to my fingertips, as I frantically submitted my RSVP request.  Never one to win contests of any sort, I didn’t expect a response. But lo and behold, fate was on my side.Within seconds of clicking the “SEND” button, an instantaneous response was delivered with several guidelines: “Check-in at 1695 Broadway. No +1s. Must be at least 25 years old. Phones must be turned off during the taping. And, oh, no photography allowed!” Although I was a bit bummed to learn that I couldn’t bring a friend to this special occasion, I was excited to know that I, at the very least, would be able to witness history in the making.How many people could say that they saw the best-selling artist of the decade — LIVE — in an intimate performance?  

Suffice it to say, sleeping was a bit challenging, and keeping the event a secret was even more daunting.  I already knew that I would have several “friendly” cuss-outs awaiting me, as soon as news of my experience broke out!On June 21st, I arrived at David Letterman’s studio and stood underneath the red “OMIDO” awning.  Through conversations with others, I found out that Jay-Z would be performing as well!  (In fact, Jay-Z held a similar giveaway, albeit in a different channel.) At that very moment, my heart skipped a beat!”Say what?!? Jay and Em — together!!! Get out of here!!!”Again, my heart skipped another beat.Waiting in line was a horrific experience.  I’ll spare the details.  But after suffering two hours of torment in the heat, I found myself on top of Ed Sullivan Theater, along with music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.  Diddy was very charismatic – flashing his million-dollar smile and waving to the crowd.  He didn’t stand with the fans by the stage, however, ultimately deciding to watch the show from a more spacious spot behind the crowd on a raised platform.

Eminem was the first to hit the stage.  The pensive look on his face matched that of an individual seeking and undergoing a great deal of spiritual healing.  Considering that fact that his latest release is entitled Recovery, perhaps that explains the preoccupation that seemed to bind Em as he moved across the stage. After breezing through “Not Afraid,” he was gone as soon as he came.  Jay-Z, on the other hand, took charge of the stage with exuberant confidence – warming up the crowd with snippets of his hits, including “Empire State of Mind.”  Once the camera’s were ready to roll, he broke into his current single, “On to the Next One.”

Can you say “electric?”Being the consummate performer and being fully aware of his surroundings, Jay-Z noticed several on-lookers from a high-rise positioned behind him.  Turning his back to the crowd for a second, he acknowledged their presence, and resumed his show. Following Jay’s mini-set, Eminem returned to the stage for a breath-taking performance of “Renegade,” a 2001 classic from The Blueprint.The fifteen minutes off-stage seemed to give Em a sudden burst of energy, because he killed his verses, and his clever lyrics reminded everyone in attendance why he’s regarded as one of hip-hop’s most beloved emcees.  Jay-Z held the fort down as well, unphased by his partner’s renewed spirits.  (With this song in particular, one has to wonder if Mr. Carter ever thinks about Nas’ infamous “Ether” observation.  You know: “Eminem murdered you on your own s**t“!) Nonetheless, Jay’s stage presence and overall performance rank amongst the best in the rap game.Once the song ended, both Em and Jay-Z wished the crowd a good night.  And as the two left the stage, “Roc diamonds” were waving excitedly in the air.

Photos courtesy of Christina Doehmer – cdoehmer@gmail.com.Clayton Perry can be found on Twitter  HYPERLINK at @crperry84.

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