July 21, 2013


10 Reasons Why Justin Timberlake Is as Hip Hop as Jay Z

Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

You'd assume going into Jay Z and Justin Timberlake's Legends of the Summer tour that each megastar's role would be easily demarcated. Before becoming music's overlord, Jay was hip hop's overlord, while Timberlake could be assured to provide the R&B/soul/pop portion of the evening. But these are (self-appointed) Legends, so it shouldn't surprise us too much that JT would flex into other genres. We've got a full recap and photo gallery, but after catching the duo's U.S. kickoff Friday night at Yankee Stadium, Timberlake proved he's as much hip hop as Jay Z. Here's why:

1. He Is One of Rap's Most Surreal Hypemen
Right from opener "Holy Grail," Timberlake was the willing hype man, throwing fists in the air, moving from one side of the stage to the other and genially bumping into Jay during his verses.

2. He Assumes the Role of Other Characters (Part 1)
During set highlight "99 Problems," Timberlake took over the role of the racist cop from Jay, his Memphis drawl adding a bit of stereotypical "bad Southern cop" menace

3. He Sings Over Kanye Tracks
It was a quick, but noticeable, musical transition when, during "Cry Me A River," the band played four bars of Kanye West's "New Slaves" before shifting back into the normal track. Somewhere, a think piece is being written about this.

4. He Covers Juicy J
Before going into "Cry Me a River," Timberlake sang the hook from the Three Six Mafia rapper's hit "Bandz a Make Her Dance." You say no to ratchet pussy, Juicy Justin can't.

5. He Plays Classic Hip Hop Riffs on Electric Guitar
During the second verse of "99 Problems," Timberlake began playing the riff from Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," later made famous, of course, when the band teamed up with Run-D.M.C. in 1986.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

6. He Will Say, Earnestly, "Give It Up One Time for Jigga Man"
That is all.

7. He Assumes the Role of Other Characters (Part 2)
Pharrell wasn't there Friday night when Jay went into his 2000 hit "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)," but no problem. Timberlake took over the rapper/singer's role easily.

8. He Employs Tired Hip Hop Tropes
In the middle of the Timbaland-produced "Summer Love," Timberlake did the ole "This side's louder, no THIS side is louder" gimmick. It's something that should've been retired years ago, but worked slightly better when dealing with a stadium-sized crowd. 

9. He Will Brush Dirt Off His Shoulder to Segway Into Jay-Z's Set
To bring Jay back for the duo's final group of tracks together, Timberlake ended "What Goes Around…. Comes Around" by repeating, "Gotta get…that…dirt off your shoulder" before Jay appeared to do his Black Album hit.

10. He Brings Out Hip Hop Royalty
At the end of "SexyBack," one of the few guests to appear was Timbaland, who became Timberlake's hypeman. "It's Timbalakeland," said a girl behind me. That it was, miss.