The Man Who Unearthed Jay-Z’s Summer Jam Footage Has a Vault Full of Rap History

This month, long lost video footage of Jay-Z’s iconic 2001 Summer Jam performance went viral on Twitter. 

For decades, the moment was steeped in apocrypha and mystery. Fans told stories about what happened during Jay-Z’s set (including a guest appearance from Michael Jackson) but aside from snippets of audio that didn’t tell the whole story, there was little documentation of the actual performance.

There were more questions than answers about what happened that day. What did Michael Jackson do onstage? Were any Roc-A-Fella soldiers onstage during “Takeover”? What gesture did Jay make when he infamously rapped, “Ask Nas, he don’t want with Hov!” We had zero indication of the performance outside of a crowd’s screams, and Jay-Z’s infamous stoicness after the performance. It was clear he had made history, but we had no idea what that epic moment looked like. Until now. 

Thanks to rap archivist Claudio Abreu, the entire hour-long set was finally unearthed this month. And he doesn’t remember how he got the grainy footage in the first place. It was just another tape in a large vault of historic hip-hop footage that he’s been collecting for decades.

“My theory is that somebody who knew somebody came to my house and said, ‘Claudio, since you’re such a big Jay-Z fan, check this out,’” he tells Complex. In his recollection, someone showed him the tape shortly after the performance, and he was “not impressed” because of the video quality and the freshness of the moment. “It’s not old [at that point]. I don’t know that this is going to be a missing part of hip-hop yet.”