Four Possible Reasons Jay-Z Is Skipping Houston on His Blueprint 3 Tour

Self-proclaimed king-of-rap Jay-Z unveiled his autumn tour schedule last week. The 26-date jaunt - which began Monday night in Chi-town and winds down just in time for Thanksgiving - will take Hovito all around the world, from New York to London to Kentucky to noise-rock haven Providence, R.I., to Ontario to Mexico. He will rock El Paso; he'll thrill Austin.

But the absence of a date for Houston - the hometown of wifey Beyonce - is perplexing, not to mention a bit insulting. Dude's gonna treat the UK to a string of shows so he can smoke Cuban cigars with homeslice/Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, but no love for Sasha Fierce's burg?

Something's up, or seems to be up, anyway. Without spies in the Jay-Z camp to hook us up with insider dope - and with Blueprint 3 MP3s still ringing in our cerebelums - Rocks Off decided to make a few semi-baseless guesses.

1. He Doesn't Want To Tread On Bun B's Turf. Even if his cultural/financial clout can't match Grey Hova's, Port Arthur's favorite son is a formidable, deeply respected hip-hop elder in his own right. What if Bun-B showed up onstage in the middle of Jay's set and challenged him to an on-the-spot freestyle battle? Even the possibility of something like that happening probably had Jay quaking in his tasselled Ferragamo slippers.

2. Thanksgiving, You Know? Slipping a Houston performance into his schedule would cut into Hov's long Thanksgiving weekend, which will probably be held in The Big Apple. I mean, if it were you, and your holiday downtime was being threatened, you'd be willing to throw a large American market under the bus, right? Also, there's a pretty good chance that Hov and B will be chowing down on turkey and cranberry sauce right here in Houston; if you're going to your in-laws' town for a holiday, do you really wanna conduct a seminar there two days prior? Probably not.

3. Austin's Got More Hipsters Than Houston, Allegedly. And hipsters love Jay-Z; for a lot of 'em, he's the only rapper it's okay to support. And Jay-Z needs lots of hipsters to pay actual money to acquire The Blueprint 3 in order to keep his whole "thriving in a drought" thing alive.

4. What If It Became All About Beyonce? There are few experiences more emasculating for a male superstar than being effectively elipsed by one's significant other. What if Jay-Z's Houston-area media interviews and even his show became a great big Beyonce love-in, with reporters forgoing Blueprint 3 queries in favor of dirt-digging on B, with fans representing with B'Day tees and only screaming out names of songs the pair appeared on together? Our president's ego can handle this sort of thing - in fact, he's probably relieved when press-pool hacks lob Michelle-related softballs instead of pointed "public option" scorchers - but we doubt Jay's can.

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Ray Cummings