Wolverine raps? As the host of the Tony Awards on Sunday, June 8, Hugh Jackman did it all—singing, dancing, hopping, and, yes, even rapping. During one of his mid-show bits onstage, the Aussie actor recalled auditioning for The Music Man when he was younger, prompting him to perform a bit of the musical’s opening number, “Rock Island.”
Noting the rhythmic beat and talk-y style of singing in the song, Jackman quipped, “Broadway composer Meredith Wilson, he might have actually created one of the very first rap songs ever back in 1957.” Then, bringing out hip hop stars LL Cool J and T.I. to join him onstage, he added, “I think it’s time we brought The Music Man into the 21st century!”
The tuxedo-wearing trio then proceeded to perform a rap version of “Rock Island,” complete with a beat from The Roots’ Questlove. Afterward, Jackman, 45, joked, “LL just gave me my rap name: Biggie Tap Shoes, yo.”
Reaction to the Tonys rap was mixed. While the audience at New York’s Radio City Music Hall seemed pretty into it, people on Twitter seemed less enthralled. Reporter Caroline Moss, for one, wrote, “LL Cool J and T.I. are performing Rock Island from The Music Man and I no longer want to be associated with theater. Like at all.”
One person who did like it? Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote Neil Patrick Harris‘ Tony wrap-up rap in 2011. “Sorry, if you don’t appreciate TI rapping Meredith Wilson lyrics on national TV, you don’t know me at all,” the In the Heights creator tweeted Sunday.
Jackman actually performed a similar version of “Rock Island” back in 2012, when he appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. He was alone that time, though, and missing both his backup rappers and a killer beat.