This Sunday’s Video Music Awards just keep getting bigger. We already knew that Jay-Z was going to be performing, but we now know that he’ll be tag-teaming with Alicia Keys for a run through the stellar Blueprint 3 track “Empire State of Mind” (appropriate, considering this year celebrates the show’s New York City homecoming).
It’s not the first time Jigga has shared the stage with an R&B superstar at the Video Music Awards, as he performed with Beyoncé in 2003 and welcomed Amil for a trifecta of hits back in 1999. Keys is no stranger to VMA collaborations either, as she joined Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder for a show-stealing jam on “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Higher Ground” at 2004’s show.
Hova’s most iconic performance at the Video Music Awards actually had nothing to do with him playing any music. In 2006 — the last time the VMAs were at Radio City Music Hall — Jay-Z opened the show with a rooftop speech to open the show. It was all about bringing the show back to New York after a sojourn to Miami, and it was a stirring way to bring the show back to where it started, introduced by the city’s consummate artist. He then tossed the show to Justin Timberlake, who opened the show with a scorching blow through “My Love” and “SexyBack.” He’s got a lot to live up to on a crowded show (especially considering the planned Michael Jackson tribute care of sister Janet that will open the night), but if anybody can surpass expectations, it’s Hova.