It's been a long time since Jay-Z has been the underdog, but even with all mountains Shawn Corey Carter has planted his flag on, he still finds inspiration in what they say he couldn't do.
Hov continued his eight-show Barclays christening on Monday night, showing renewed energy halfway through his marathon concert stand. Jay began just as he did opening night, with a video montage of great Brooklyn moments and figures flashing on the screen while a medley of Roy Ayers' jazz classic "We Live in Brooklyn, Baby," the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" and Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Brooklyn Zoo" blared through the house speakers.
Jay emerged to a retooled version of his own 1997 BK classic "Where I'm From" then jumped into "Brooklyn Go Hard" before paying homage to the Notorious B.I.G., doing covers to "Hypnotize" and conducting a crowd sing-a-long of "Juicy."
The set list was clearly tweaked. Jigga added his Beyoncé duet " '03 Bonnie & Clyde" (Mrs. Carter did not show up on stage) and "Girls, Girls, Girls" to the mix, a move that delighted the Barclays female patrons.
In a week which Hov earmarked for celebration, he did show off a chip on his shoulder, and he didn't brush it off until he addressed the crowd. In a speech similar to the one he gave at Barclays on Sunday night, Jigga blasted critics who harp on his minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets. "You still got a long way to go when everybody wants to diminish your accomplishment," he said. "When I look in the paper I see them talking, 'He owns one-fifteenth of one [percent] — first of all, I don't know where they get that number from."
The God MC stood center stage urging fans to keep aspiring for greatness and to find their "genius-level talent" by providing further inspiration with an anecdote he used to close the show. Jay recalled playing his very first demo tape for his uncle, who immediately shot down the youngster's dreams. "N---a get outta here, you'll never be better than LL Cool J," Hov remembered his uncle saying.
LL, who got his start in 1985, is a top contender for rap's never-ending greatest-of all-time argument. "LL Cool J is a bad mother---er, I'll just leave that alone," Jay said, gracefully bowing out of a possible rap controversy.
No matter where you stand on the greatest-of-all-time debate, there is no denying Jay's accomplishments in and outside of the booth. Name another rapper who can turn a one-fifteenth of one percent stake into a homecoming fit for a king, and by the time you think of it, Hov will likely have moved on to the next mountain.
Which one of Jay-Z's accomplishments have impressed you the most? Let us know in the comments!