What does Jay-Z have to do with Jimmy Kimmel, Pontiac and Second Life? We’re not sure either, but we wish we were the marketing brains who brought together the strange collaboration that occured in the wee hours of Thanksgiving morning as the reigning king of hip-hop leapt out of retirement with a performance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and a simulcast on Pontiac’s SL Motorati Life island. If nothing else, the presence of one of America’s most popular recording artists in SL should make non-believers stop and think for a sec: Maybe this virtual-world thing is more than a passing trend? We were lucky enough to be there—in avatar form, of course—to witness worlds colliding.
The long and short of it is, while you were stuffing your face with turkey and enjoying a four-day weekend (but hey, we’re not judgin’—why do you think this post is coming so late?), Jay-Z was on a manic back-from-retirement blitz, utilizing live performances, record album sales and Web streaming to race into the market on all four cylinders. Since Tuesday, his new album, Kingdom Come, has sold more than 850,000 copies, and his benefit Friday at New York’s Roseland Ballroom, "H2 the IzzO", raised $250,000 for PlayPumps International, an organization that brings ingenious water pumps powered by children’s merry-go-rounds to African villages. That show was also streamed live, on AOL music. Whew. And I thought eating Aunt Dorothy’s giblet dressing was a lot to deal with.
Whereas the Jimmy Kimmel show was attended by hordes of die-hard, screaming hip-hop fans, the in-world event was by invitation only, attended by 80 avatars sitting stock-still so we wouldn’t crash the sim. The crowd mostly consisted of folks invited by Millions of Us, the design house that coordinated this event (as well as the PopSci Future Lounge,) bloggers, and presumably some Pontiac folks. Needless to say, our crowd of uber-nerds was a pretty far cry from Jay-Z’s usual target demographic, but everyone was SUPER excited to be there. Sample nerd chatter overheard before the star hit the stage:
“Pixel sex is the best. There are still some things you can’t do, but still…”
“Obviously you haven’t tried it with a pose ball yet. Is it wrong that I want to sing the Smurfs theme song right now?”
“Jigga WHAT? Jigga Woooohoo!"
Yeah. So anyway, welcome, to the ‘hood, Hova. —Megan Miller