By Sam Green, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rock in Rio has added Jay-Z to its line-up and the music festival’s organizers are confident they will avoid the controversy that surrounded the Hip-Hop superstar’s seminal performance at Glastonbury Festival three years ago. The American rapper, who has sold more than 40 million albums and won thirteen Grammy Awards, will play at The Olympic Park City of Rock in Barra da Tijuca on Saturday October 1st, before headliners Coldplay.

Jay-Z wins over the rock crowd at Glastonbury 2008, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Jay-Z wins over the rock crowd at Glastonbury 2008, photo by Neal Whitehouse Piper/Wikimedia Creative Commons License.

When Jay-Z was announced to headline England’s Glastonbury Festival in 2008, it prompted a fierce and often bitter public debate.

It was the first time a Hip-Hop artist had topped the bill at the world’s biggest greenfield open-air music festival, which, like Rock in Rio, traditionally picked guitar-based artists as headliners.

Jay-Z was blamed for slow ticket sales and Noel Gallagher of British rock band Oasis, said: “I’m sorry, but Jay-Z? No chance. I’m not having Hip-Hop at Glastonbury. It’s wrong”.

Jay-Z responded by entering the stage to a Hip-Hop version of Oasis hit ‘Wonderwall’ and won over the audience and critics with a storming show.

Rock in Rio will be Jay-Z’s first show in the city, and Roberta Medina, the festival’s vice-president believes his inclusion reflects the open-minded nature of the event.

“Rock in Rio is an event for all the ‘tribes’ without distinction,” she said. “Since 1985, when it was launched, it has presented an eclectic line-up, with Rock, Pop, MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), Hip-Hop and so on.”

Medina added that Rock in Rio selected its performers after extensive market research. When 1,200 fans in Rio and Sao Paulo were polled last year, the most asked-for band was Metallica, who will headline on September 25th. More recently, 450,000 fans voted online for Guns N’ Roses, who will close this year’s event.

Medina’s views were endorsed by Stefanie Gescher, a 23-year-old Canadian who is volunteering in Rio for six months. “Jay-Z makes its more enticing for me, I think it’s awesome,””she said. “I have a broad taste in music and want to see Metallica too.”

Mexican rockers Maná have been added to the Rock In Rio line-up
Mexican rockers Maná have been added to the Rock In Rio line-up, photo by Creative Commons License.

However, Julia Duque, a 25-year-old music fan from Rio, said: “I don’t like this because Rock in Rio is for Rock, not Hip-Hop. But I’ll still go because there are so many other bands I want to see.”

Also added to the bill last week were Mexican rockers Maná, who will play before Jay-Z. Their blend of Rock, Pop and Latin rhythms has made them one of the world’s most popular Spanish-language bands and earned them three Grammy Awards.

Rock in Rio is returning to the city of its birth after ten years on the road. Following events in Rio in 1985, 1991 and 2001, it held four festivals in Lisbon and two in Madrid between 2004 and 2010.

Rock in Rio will also be held at The Olympic Park City of Rock in Barra da Tijuca in 2013 and 2015, while continuing to host events in Lisbon and Madrid. The organization is also planning to expand in Latin America, with Argentina, Mexico or Colombia in line for an event.

This year’s event will take place across two weekends, September 23rd – 25th and September 30th – October 2nd. Tickets go on sale in early May and entry for each day will cost R$190, and half-price student tickets will be R$95. For more information visit:


  1. I think Jay Z will bring a little more recognition to the festival for the American and Europeans that listen to hip hop. I have several friends that live in Brazil. They are interested in taking the wife or girlfriend to see this event now, since it has broaden the appeal. I am currently living full time in the USA but have a residence in Brazil as well. I have planned my vacation to spend the entire two weekends at this event. I would love to volunteer. Do you have any information on Volunteering for this event?
    Marcus J.


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