Rap is a young man’s sport, or so it was thought. Credit the 42-year old Jay-Z with once again changing the game, just as he did in the late 1990s when he ushered in platinum jewelry, or in 2003, when he single-handedly halted rap’s sports jersey craze. On Friday night, Hov commanded the stage at Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center for the seventh time in a little more than a week, an almost two-hour show that might prove difficult for men half his age.
With all that has been made of Hov’s business moves (helping to bring the NBA Nets to Brooklyn and, in turn, building the Barclays Center), little has been said about the physical tax Jay has to pay performing eight shows in nine nights — each nearly two hours long with no opening act or hype man.
It was shortly after 10 p.m. when the Barclays fired up Jigga’s elaborate hometown intro, which pays homage to all things Brooklyn with fitting tunes like Roy Ayers’ “We Live in Brooklyn, Baby,” the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Brooklyn Zoo.” Just as he had done on previous nights, Jay emerged from backstage, rocking his 1997 Marcy Projects anthem “Where I’m From.” From there, the God MC dove into a number of New York-centric joints like “Empire State of Mind,” “Brooklyn Go Hard” and the Notorious B.I.G.’s classic single “Juicy.”
“We’re in the midst of an amazing run, this is show number seven out of eight,” the elated Roc Nation boss shouted to the 19,000 in attendance.
Hov ran through a total of 33 songs, spitting nearly every lyric with no Memphis Bleek to back his vocals and only one brief intermission. Jay favorites, like “Public Service Announcement,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and “Hard Knock Life,” led into 2003’s “Encore,” Jay’s appropriately titled set closer. After he performed the Kanye West-produced track, he disappeared backstage, only to return minutes later.
“I don’t wanna leave either,” Jigga said upon his return. “You guys wanna go into overtime?”
For the second portion of his set, Hov moved at a more rapid pace, ripping “What More Can I Say” and then his verse on Rick Ross’ “3 Kings.” With this “overtime” set, Jay opted to create more of a club atmosphere, raising the energy sky high with “Money Ain’t a Thing,” his R. Kelly collabo “Take You Home With Me” and Snoop Dogg’s “I Wanna Rock.”
As the night drew to a close, Hova’s backing band, the Roc Boys drummed up the instrumental for “Young Forever,” as fans raised lighters and cell phones for Jigga’s slight rework of Alphaville’s 1984 song “Forever Young.”
Even after seven shows, it looks as if Jay-Z’s stage show will never get old, just better with time.
What is your favorite Jay-Z concert memory? Let us know in the comments!