Jay-Z preaches power of peace

ImageA day before the hip-hop show Powerhouse 2005 played the Meadowlands, rap-mogul president of Def Jam Records Jay-Z - who starred in the extravaganza -said on the radio, "I declare war!"

He went on to tell deejay Ed Lover on Power 105.1 that from the concert stage he was going to "air out" the rappers who'd been slagging him.

The promise held more hype than hit at the Thursday show.

Those who expected Jay-Z to snipe at Fat Joe (whose Terror Squad hoops team smacked down Jay's Roc-a-Fellas outfit in a benefit game) were wrong. 50 Cent, who's been a burr under Mr. Z's saddle since their 2003 Roc the Mic tour, went unscathed, and The Game took no abuse for his attacks on Jay-Z's main man, Memphis Bleek.

Who got "aired"?

In a way it was Jay himself.

The man asked the rhetorical question near the close of the show that's been on everyone's mind: "Why are people who are making so much money hating so hard?"

The staggering senselessness of the rap wars seems to have occurred to the man now that he's in charge of Def Jam.

To make the point on stage, as the grand finale of the concert he publicly buried the hatchet with his longtime rival Nas and performed with him.

For those who can hold a grudge till their dying day, this was bizarre, considering that just three years ago the feud was so heated that Nas attempted to lynch a life-size effigy of Jay-Z on stage at Giants Stadium during his performance.

Thursday it was all love and kisses, even when the pair got into a mock scuffle when Nas sat in Jay-Z's chair. Chalk peace up to the notion that everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. Besides, rumors are that Def Jam is trying to lure Nas away from his longtime partnership with Columbia Records.

The finale histrionics also featured an unincarcerated Beanie Siegel running and rapping with Jay-Z and Nas. It had a dramatic flair, but earlier acts, including Sean Combs (wearing white after Labor Day), the Lox, Kanye West and Young Jeezy were more vibrant, less forced and just better entertainment.

This show had a lot of big-act bang for the concert buck, and it's really great that love and not bullets were in the air. But rap shows are like heavyweight bouts - you watch for the punches, not the footwork.