WASHINGTON, D.C. — With George W. Bush all packed up and out of the White House, and Barack Obama ready to move in, hip-hop has never felt more patriotic. And the huge theme for Obama’s inauguration weekend has been Young Jeezy’s “My President.” On Monday night, in the town nicknamed “Chocolate City,” [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] drove his audience wild with his new verse for the song’s remix.
The show at the Warner Theatre was billed as the “Concert on the Eve of Change,” but the crowd welcomed a very familiar Hov game-plan: knock ‘em with his own hits and those of his big-name guests.
After “Brooklyn Go Hard,” Jay informed D.C. that he was ready for a long night.
“I really wanted to do the show to party with y’all,” said Jay, who wore a black T-shirt with Abraham Lincoln’s face on it. “I feel fantastic. … I hope y’all brought your lunch pails, ’cause I can go three, four hours — nine, 10 hours.”
The Jigga Man also said that he brought extra clothes with him and could rhyme all the way until it was time to go the inauguration.
With a live band, dynamic light show and can’t-miss-the-action screens, Jay got on a roll that never really stopped all night. Most of the audience was on their feet for the duration.
“Can I Live,” “Dead Presidents” and “Swagga Like Us,” incited the onlookers to drown the venue with the scream of “Hohhhhhhhhh-vahhhhhhhhh!” “Blue Magic” came and so did its derogatory reference to the 43rd president, George W. Bush.
[artist id="1243444"]Young Jeezy[/artist] arrived onstage moments later for “My President.”
“Bush robbed all of us; does that make him a criminal?” the Snowman asked rhetorically. Images of newspaper front pages made up the montage on the screens, while the MCs recited the current hip-hop national anthem: “My president’s black, my Lambo’s blue.”
Jay then rapped the verse for the remix he’d performed the previous night with Jeezy : “My president’s black, but his house is all white.” Immediately the cheers drowned out his next few words. Major props for a rap sicker than salmonella poisoning.
“Red, white and blue flag, wave for me baby,” Jay added. “I was hot before Barack, so imagine what I’m gonna do … / No more white lies, my president is black.”
In the minutes following, Jay went to the well for one of his hits off the Black Album, but didn’t like the music that was being brought in.
“Hold up,” Jay said. “The president was brushing his shoulders off to that sh–, you just don’t throw that on.” Of course “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” was the next selection.
Later, one of Jay’s most heralded partners in crime, [artist id="854"]Mary J. Blige[/artist], danced out for the ageless “Can’t Knock the Hustle.”
“I know y’all feel real good right now. Can we have some fun?” she asked going into “Real Love.” Jay rapped the lyrics of his homie, the [artist id="13432"]Notorious B.I.G.[/artist] that laced the remix.
“Are y’all looking at what’s happening right now, what’s taking place?” the mighty Queen of Hip-Hop Soul asked. MJB also declared that Tuesday’s ceremony marked the end of bad times.
“Everybody is here tonight for Barack Obama, and Michelle,” the singer boasted. “Is it getting better, or do you feel the same?”
Jay’s other surprise (not counting an unannounced [artist id="509000"]Memphis Bleek[/artist], who’s usually at all his friend’s concerts) put the show in official he-shut-it-down-again territory: [artist id="1236911"]Beyoncé[/artist].
B came from behind a skinny screen that lit her silhouette. As she walked to the front of the stage, “Single Ladies,” rang out, signaling a full-on performance by Mrs. Carter. No background dancers — she was captivating enough on her own.
In the crowd, watching along with the screaming fans, were Jay’s longtime friends Bun B (Hov gave Pimp C a special tribute during “Big Pimpin’ “) and D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.
“You know its a new day, when mayors are at rap concerts,” Jay laughed. “I might stay here a month.”
“Encore” ended the night and Jay had no problem with the audience replacing their chants of “Hohhhhh-vah! Hohhhhhhh-vah!” with “O-baaa-ma! O-baaa-ma!”
“Look forward to a beautiful tomorrow, a beautiful eight years,” the mic icon advised.
And what better way to celebrate hope than with a champagne toast? Jay’s staff brought out a bottle of Ace of Spades the size of small toddler. They passed out glasses and let the crowd pass the bottle among themselves.
Watch “Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural” online now, and come back Thursday for the full performances from Kanye West, Kid Rock and Fall Out Boy. Stick with us for wall-to-wall coverage of the inauguration and of the scenes in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Kenya.