After taping The Van Jones Show and hosting the annual Roc Nation Pre-Grammy brunch, JAY-Z’s busy day ended in celebratory fashion at the Clive Davis and Recording Academy Pre-GRAMMY Gala on Saturday night (Jan. 27). This year, the Roc Nation mogul was honored with GRAMMY Salute to Industry Icons Award for his contributions as an industry trailblazer and music visionary. Beyoncé, Diddy, Jerry Seinfeld, Katie Holmes, Jamie Foxx, Cardi B, Camila Cabello, ZAYN, T.I., Diplo, Rita Ora, Swizz Beatz and more attended the extravagant event at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel in NYC.

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During his speech, the 21-time Grammy Award winner recalled boycotting the GRAMMYs for six-straight years starting in 1999, after DMX and other hip-hop artists were snubbed at the time. The Brooklyn MC returned in 2004 “when a beautiful young lady whom I love dearly” was nominated for their “Crazy In Love” collaboration, referring to his wife Beyoncé. The Roc Nation mogul would later speak on coming to the realization that “art is super-subjective and everyone’s doing their best.” He would later state that, “The academy, they’re human like we are and voting on things that they like. We can pretend that we don’t care, but we do, because we see the most incredible artists stand on that stage and aspire to do that. So I was like, ‘I have to be here.’ That’s the whole idea: for all of us to get involved and to push this thing further.”

Migos, Logic, Khalid, Jennifer Hudson and Gladys Knight were some of the evening’s performers. Alicia Keys also took to the stage, delivering the longest set of the night with a beautiful medley of JAY-Z classics including “Run This Town,” “Hard Knock Life,” “U Don’t Know” and “Encore.”



"I'm going to say a lot of real things tonight, but it's all coming from a beautiful and honest place. My introduction to the Grammys—aside from watching Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder and all those guys and aspiring to do what they do—was in 1998 with the album called Vol. 2. You got that album? I was nominated for some awards, but there was another guy, DMX, and he had these two great albums the same year. He did like 900,000. Oh, only Kevin remembers this? [Laughs]. The same year he released those albums he wasn't nominated for any awards, so I actually boycotted the Grammys. I didn't come until 2004 when a beautiful young lady whom I love dearly had a solo album, and it was a breakout. So my first time was six years later for "Crazy in Love" and that album, and for Beyoncé. So then I realized that art is super subjective and everyone is doing their best. The Academy is human, like we are, and they're voting on things that they like. And we can pretend that we don't care, but we really do. We see the most incredible artists stand on that stage and we aspire to be that. So I was like, 'I have to be here.' We have to all get involved to push this thing further. No matter what happens at the Grammys, we know what it is. Bob Marley is going to be Bob Marley whether he is nominated for a Grammy or not. 2Pac is going to be 2Pac. Biggie is going to be Biggie. That is the truth. In this industry, for the things we uphold and we love and we treasure and we respect, we have to get involved. I stand up here on the shoulders of all the beautiful people who inspired me. So like all of the people that came before us, it is our duty to make sure that not only are we making the greatest art, we uphold and support each other and the things that are super real. So I'm super humbled and I'm super appreciative to The Academy and everybody here tonight. Thank you so much for this award. This shit is super heavy too, by the way!" #jayz @recordingacademy

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Previously: JAY-Z Discusses Donald Trump, Fatherhood, 4:44 Album, Beyoncé & More on The Van Jones Show (Video)