Nearly two decades ago, the iconic 40/40 club opened its doors in downtown Manhattan for the first time and has been the go-to spot for some of music’s most memorable nights ever since. Hip-hop icon Jay-Z threw an exclusive, star-studded celebration Saturday night (Aug. 28) to properly commemorate its 18th anniversary.
The 40/40 was temporarily shut down last year due to the ongoing pandemic, but recently reopened in early August. It’s currently in the process of filling 100 positions after hosting an open call for a combination of bartenders and food and beverage servers.
On Saturday, the blue carpet where guests were set to arrive was decorated with a lavish backdrop of various blue flowers stretching down to the club’s front entrance. A swarm of onlookers and fans crowded around the block hours before the event began. First on the scene was Lil Uzi Vert in punctual fashion, then closely followed by fellow artists like Pusha T, J Balvin, Megan Thee Stallion, Meek Mill and Vic Mensa — all of whom pulled up to support Jay-Z and the anniversary.
Swizz Beatz, fellow hip-hop staple and longtime close friend of Jay, arrived dressed for the occasion in a velvet suit. But before the red carpet photographers could fully snap their shots of his ensemble, the man of the hour Jay-Z arrived right behind Swizz with perfect timing and swiftly joined him on the carpet. Hov graciously thanked everyone for coming before smoothly walking into his club with Swizz, ready for the celebration to begin.
Even if someone hasn’t been to 40/40, it is nearly impossible to not know of its allure in the music world, thanks to the surplus of references sprinkled throughout verses from Jay himself as well as plenty of other artists. For Benny the Butcher, this was exactly the case as he stepped into 40/40 physically for the first time last night but had always heard the name in lyrics everywhere.
“This is actually my first time here, but the first thing that comes to mind is Beanie Sigel’s line, ‘I’m at the 40/40 with 40 on me,’” Benny tells Billboard. “It’s just so ingrained into New York culture.
For artists like Remy Ma, 40/40 is in her backyard, ensuring some of her most memorable moments were spent there. “My best memory from 40/40 was a few years ago when Fat Joe had his birthday party here,” she tells Billboard with a laugh. “He had Keith Sweat here and made him sing the same song for him 19 times in a row. I felt bad for him, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will never forget that day.”
In addition to the parties and listening events, 40/40 has been an instrumental part in hosting a variety of events that helped shape the culture. “My nonprofit that we started called IMPACT in DC, we did it here at 40/40,” political commentator Angela Rye reminisces as she tells Billboard about her first memory of the club. “Everyone was so kind and kind of was our entry into the New York scene. I’m happy for Jay and the success of the club years later.”
More guests were reunited with colleagues and friends they haven’t seen in months as the night went on. Inside, attendees enjoyed some nice picks from an assortment of D’usse cocktails on the menu as they came together to honor 18 years of 40/40.