It took "live bands, big sound, pyrotechnics and showmanship," not to speak of an assist from an R&B diva, but Jay-Z and Kanye West have brought hip-hop into the big leagues in the touring business. The Jay-Z tour that ended last month grossed more than $23 million, and Kanye West's current tour will pass $21 million soon, Rolling Stone reports.
"It's a turning point for hip-hop," says one industry exec. "This is the first time in history that someone from hip-hop reaches for the levels of the Rolling Stones," says Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, musical director for Jay-Z's tour and consultant for West's. "Jay-Z and Kanye are saying, 'Bono and Jagger are our peers.' " And they're working hard for it: "Jay-Z's whole philosophy is, 180 seconds cannot go by without some sort of event," ?uestlove adds.