On 27 September 2006, Jay-Z came out of supposed retirement to headline the Royal Albert Hall’s first ever hip hop show, featuring a host of top musicians.

Jay-Z at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 September 2006

Jay-Z’s arrival was marked by a large black curtain draped across the stage dropping to reveal the Hustler Symphony Orchestra. Special guests joined Jay-Z on stage, including rap artists Akala, Kano, Lupe Fiasco, Rick Ross and Nas, as well as rumored girlfriend Beyoncé, DJ Green Lantern and Chris Martin.

Gwyneth Paltrow was the real surprise of the night, appearing at the Hall on her 34th birthday to sing the chorus to Song Cry, before being serenaded herself by the enthusiastic crowd with Happy Birthday.

Jay-Z and Beyonce
Jay-Z and Beyonce
Jay-Z and Beyonce
Jay-Z and Memphis Bleek
Jay-Z at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 September 2006
Jay-Z and Memphis Bleek at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 September 2006

Jay-Z’s set featured songs from his upcoming album Kingdom Come (2006) as well as old classics, plus tributes to hip-hop’s dead artists including Biggie, Tupac, Big L and Jam Master Jay with a recitation of Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem), as well as songs by The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac. Former adversary Nas appeared to perform five of his own tracks, before Beyonce recreated all the moves from her Crazy In Love video, backed by three dancers.

Jay-Z at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 September 2006
Jay-Z at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 September 2006

‘It was an historic event. We were in the same seats that you’ve seen at the Proms. It was amazing.’
G Money, Radio 1Xtra DJ


Jay-Z at the Royal Albert Hall, 26 September 2006