BRONX, New York — Sure, pairing Jay Z and Justin Timberlake for a big-time tour is great for business, but outside of the two collaborations that they share, how much chemistry could the two stars actually exhibit on stage? Apparently, a ton!
After kicking off their Legends of the Summer tour on Wednesday in Toronto, Canada, JT and Jay Z tag-teamed to thrill the sold-out crowd at New York’s Yankee Stadium on Friday night. Shortly before 9:30 p.m., the pair took the stage to the tune of Jay Z’s newly released “Holy Grail.” “You take the clothes off my back, and I let you,” Timberlake sang over the dinging piano keys as he and Jay emerged from different sides of the stadium only to meet at the center of the stage by the time the song’s drums dropped.
When Hov and Kanye West went out together on 2011’s Watch the Throne Tour they shared equal footing, performing mostly together, but at times enjoying solo spotlights for brief periods of time. It worked because The Throne, as they were billed, had an album’s worth of material to perform. Justin and Jay had to get a little more creative however, and blend their catalogues together.
After “Holy Grail,” Jay reached back and dusted off 2000’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me),” the first song he ever recorded with the Neptunes. Instead of Pharrell, Justin held down the hook while Jay spit his Notorious B.I.G.-inspired verses. Before the song ended however, the band (Justin’s Tennessee Kids) smoothly transitioned into Timberlake’s 2002 single “Rock Your Body,” another Neptunes production. The two would flip back and forth turning the pair of powerhouse jams into one, all-encompassing master mix. It didn’t stop there, when Justin jumped into “Señorita,” Hov volleyed back with the sonically similar “Excuse Me Miss.”
It was a brilliant strategy that the two also explored when performing their respective Timbaland productions. When JT lobbed “My Love,” Jay answered with “Big Pimpin’ ” and when Timberlake delivered “Tunnel Vision,” Hov returned with “Jigga What, Jigga Who.” Even when he wasn’t singing Timberlake continued to contribute. While the Magna Carta MC rapped “U Don’t Know” and “99 Problems” Justin picked up a guitar and began playing along.
There were times when the duo rocked independently of each other. An hour into the show, Justin stood alone and ran through a mix of new hits and old favorites. There was “Pusher Love Girl” followed by “Summer Love” and then “Until the End of Time.” Justin also took the opportunity to play the newly released “Take Back the Night” from his upcoming The 20/20 Experience sequel.
It didn’t take long for Jay to rotate back into the front of the crowd for a medley of his own which included “Tom Ford” and “N—as in Paris.” Before Hov’s hometown ode “Empire State of Mind,” Timberlake gifted the crowd with a fitting rendition of Frank Sinatra’s classic “New York, New York.” Even “Empire” collaborator Alicia Keys showed up for the Big Apple hit.
To close, the dynamic duo changed into the appropriate attire, donning black jackets and pants for “Suit & Tie.” But before the night was completely through they offered one last song, which took on a more significant meaning last night. As Justin started the hook for Jay’s “Young Forever,” Hov urged all to put their cell phones in the sky. “Let’s light the sky for Trayvon Martin,” he instructed before JT also showed support for the slain Florida teen by shouting: “One time for Trayvon.”
It was all beautiful and fitting, as a sense of togetherness washed over the crowd. The Legends of the Summer Tour brought together drastically different fans of two very different artists, who delivered one great show.