The sprawling exhibition opened its doors for a private party at the Brooklyn Public Library on Thursday (July 13), and marks one of the largest of its kind dedicated to a single Hip Hop artist.
According to its website, the multimedia exhibition “presents thousands of archived objects, including original recording masters, never-before-seen photos, iconic stage wear, prestigious awards and recognitions, as well as videos and artifacts from every facet on JAY-Z’s professional life.”
Tracing the billionaire mogul’s journey from Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects to global stardom, the exhibition aims to “provide a behind-the-scenes look at a Hall of Fame songwriter and performer, successful business person and a consequential philanthropist” while celebrating his “artistry, roots, accomplishments and transcendent cultural impact.”
While the exhibition doesn’t open to the public until Friday (July 14), an exclusive group of guests were treated to an early look around on Thursday evening, including Fat Joe, Yo Gotti, Lil Uzi Vert, Rakim, DJ Khaled, Questlove and more. The man of the hour, JAY-Z, was also in the building alongside his wife Beyoncé and their daughter Blue Ivy.
Among the array of rare artifacts on display from throughout Hov’s almost 30-year career is a recreation of Baseline Studios, the famed New York City recording studio where Jigga crafted classic albums like The Blueprint and The Black Album.
For Questlove, this part of the exhibition stands out above the rest. In a video posted to Instagram, The Roots drummer marveled at the rebuilt studio while giving followers a close-up of the room’s layout, studio equipment and scribbled tracklists.
“Yo, man… I’m mind-blown. They recreated Baseline Studios!” he said as Jigga’s Black Album closer “My 1st Song” fittingly blared through the speakers in the background.
Quest then panned the camera to Just Blaze, one of Roc-A-Fella’s key producers during the Baseline era, and asked him how long it took to clone the studio. “We started working on this four months ago,” he explained, adding that the mixing console was “in pieces” and, save for a few minor details, everything is exactly the same.
The Philadelphia native then walked into the recording booth where JAY-Z famously laid down his verses that he constructed in his head. “Wow, this it to the letter! This is literally to the letter,” he remarked.
“We’ve beenn holding on to this one for a few months now. Baseline back.. only for a limited time in Brooklyn,” Just Blaze added in an Instagram post of his own that featured a 360 tour of the studio.
Check out the posts below:
Those unable to experience “The Book of HOV” in person needn’t miss out, though, as the exhibition’s website offers an interactive, chapter-by-chapter guide of what’s on display, complete with narration from Angie Martinez.
News of a JAY-Z exhibition first came to light earlier this week when the rap legend’s lyrics were plastered all over the front of the Brooklyn Public Library.
Rhymes from songs like “Hovi Baby,” “Sweet,” “Encore,” “Justify My Thug” and “Smile” were seen inscribed on the outside of building in the style of a newspaper article.
The library previously hosted an event celebrating Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary called Night in the Library: The Philosophy of Hip Hop last month, which featured guest speakers such as JAY-Z’s mother, Dr. Gloria Carter, as well as Rapsody and others.
“He was a very special child. He was that kid that was like, ‘Yo ma, the sun is shining and I want to go outside.’ I’ll be like, ‘Baby, it’s cold out.’ He’d be like, ‘The sun is shining.’ I’d be like, ‘Okay, I’ma let you go outside,’” Gloria Carter told host Angie Martinez at the event.
“Open the door put him outside and I’m looking out the door and a couple minutes he’s ringing the bell [shivering]. So I was like, ‘What happened?’ He was like, ‘It’s cold outside.’ That’s how a lesson is learned.”
— BPL Presents (@BPL_Presents) July 11, 2023