I told you a while back about how I was going to see Jay-Z. A couple of weeks ago, that show happened. At work on the day of the show, I listened to three albums on shuffle. I emailed my sister the lyrics to the chorus of Hard Knock Life. I was telling people “Jay-Z is a big deal”. He is, he’s one of the biggest artists on the planet. I’ve seen 50 Cent and Ludacris (not together, and both were at a festival) live and they were HORRIBLE. Jay-Z is AWESOME. I thought this show would be better than any other rap show I’d ever seen.
We got there during the opening act, and he was okay. He had some song with lyrics that sounded like he wanted to sleep with a girl, but not want her to tell anyone, which made me ask “is this song about Tiger Woods?” We saw Mos Def and Spike Lee (really). We saw people dressed up way better than the standard concert, lots of tight dresses and big sunglasses. Then we saw the man himself emerge from below the stage.
One of the things I noticed about the other two artists who performed other than Jay-Z, was that they needed guys on stage who would go “give it up for so and so! Yeah! Make some noise!” Jay-Z did not need that, he’s a big deal. When the lights went down and the clock countdown got closer and closer to 0:00, the crowd knew who was coming. The curtain fell with 20 seconds to go, and the band is out on stage, and then Jay-Z rose from the depths of the stage and had the crowd in the palm of his hand. It was awesome. The entire crowd had their arms up bouncing along to Run This Town. It was everything I had imagined.
I thought the setlist lost some steam when he veered away from the big hits early. The other songs were hits too, but Run This Town and 99 Problems are just bigger songs that everyone can get into. I just thought one or two more of the bigger songs would have been better. The not so good songs weren’t made better live. I did really like the live band though. And his ability to spit out raps with such ease was amazing. I don’t think I could talk that fast and that smooth. I had read something earlier in the week that one of the things that sets him apart is he can command flow. I definitely agree. The midset handoff to Young Jeezy was alright (Jay-Z left the stage, and YJ did a mini-set), but it drained some of the life from the crowd. Though, YJ did manage to encourage us with sayings like “if you can dream it, you can motherf****** do it!” Right on. Jay-Z came back out and finished the show strong.
I thought one of the highlights was the girl that he pulled up on stage who sang a verse of Song Cry. The Unplugged is one of my favorite albums ever, and Song Cry is on there. It is one of my favorites. The chick managed to do really well, so well that I think Jay-Z was impressed, and teamed up with her for a couple of lines. She didn’t get to finish though, some excuses like “we gotta go” or something. Still though, I’m sure that’s one of the highlights of her life.
Overall, I would have made a couple of setlist changes (no Can’t Knock the Hustle or What We Talkin’ About) and eliminated the midset handoff, but other than that the show was one of those “quest realm” types that didn’t disappoint.