Saturday Night Live music: JAY-Z, Damian Marley perform ‘Bam’; a solo ‘4:44’ performance

JAY-ZJAY-Z was the musical guest for the Saturday Night Live premiere this weekend, and expectations were high going in. Anytime that you are the first performer of the season, there is an elevated expectation to deliver something big. That’s probably increased exponentially when you think for a minute about who JAY-Z is — this is one of the biggest rappers out there, and someone who really doesn’t have to do performances on this show anymore. He can go anywhere he wants and sell out concerts.

So what did Jay decide to bust out for his first song of the night? Think along the likes of “Bam,” his recent track featuring Damian Marley. We had a camouflage background, a little flag-waving, and a mixture of reggae and rap that we haven’t quite heard with some of his past music.

Ultimately, we don’t foresee that this performance, or anything JAY-Z does tonight, being something that is going to convert people who weren’t fans entering the night. He’s one of those performers who you either love or you don’t. The one thing we were a little bit surprised about how minimalist the staging was for the performance, and we actually wish that we heard a little bit more of JAY-Z throughout given that he was who were watching to see. (Don’t get us wrong — Marley’s great, but the combination of the two in a live setting was a little scattershot.)

Stay tuned, given that we’re going to have more on the second song coming up later. Refresh the page!

The second song – This was “4:44,” the song of JAY-Z’s that is probably the one that drew more headlines over the past few months because of the Beyoncé references in the lyrics. This was great, powerful stuff — Kim Burrell’s backing voice, Jay standing at the center of the stage with a mic, and nothing in the way of his performance and his message. It’s his passion that makes him a legend in the industry — you feel the lyrics in his eyes in addition to his enunciation and his delivery. This was a great way for him to end his set on the show, and for SNL to wrap up its first night of music this season.

What did you think about JAY-Z on Saturday Night Live?

Be sure to share some of your thoughts on the subject in the comments! Also, be sure to check out two other CarterMatt pieces from the night.

1. Our full review of the Ryan Gosling episode.

2. Our take on the cold open, which featured the return of Jeff Sessions (Kate McKinnon) and a brief piece about Puerto Rico.

Finally, click here to get news on SNL and more via our CarterMatt Facebook page. (Photo: NBC.)

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