Remember when he said there would be no guests at his Barclays Center concerts? Well Jay-Z lied. But we’ll get to that later.
Brooklyn’s MC savant officially opened the doors to the new home of the Brooklyn Nets with the first of eight concerts tonight (September 28th), and he tore it down (figuratively, of course). Superbly epic, with healthy doses of inspiration, is a modest way of describing the opening night show H.O. put on for his hometown fans.
Standing court (technically on top of a stage built atop where the far end of Nets’ herringbone floor sits during games), Jigga ran through a murderer’s row of hits from his extensive catalog. Mister Cee started the night off as the first DJ to man the wheels of steel at Barclays. Appropriately, Notorious B.I.G. cuts dominated the Hot 97 DJ’s set, warming the crowd for Hova’s entrance.
When the lights darkened, a film montage of Brooklyn accomplishments (when the borough was founded, the date its namesake bridge was built, etc.) streamed across the screen set just behind the stage, while Roy Ayers’ classic “We Live In Brooklyn, Baby” filled in the arena. A few more local musical nods (Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Brooklyn Zoo,” the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Til Brooklyn”) were also heard before Hova appeared, standing in shadow of a makeshift doorway.
“What’s up NYC, tonight is a celebration,” said Mr. Carter, sporting a Nets fitted, a hooded bubble vest, at least a few gold chains and the all new Brooklyn Nets Jersey, before proceeding to kick things off with a spirited rendition of “Where I’m From.”
From there, the hits just kept flowing, all night.
“Brooklyn We Go Hard” shifted into a Biggie tribute as notes from “Kick In The Door” led to Jay coaxing the crowd into performing the late, great rapper’s hit “Juicy.”
Commanding the stage despite being up there alone, Hova bumped the stadium’s energy up another notch with a performance of “U Don’t Know.” At this point, if you are familiar with Jay’s lyrics, it became astonishingly clear how what once were just ultra-creative rapper boasts managed to come true.
Hearing Hov spit, “And if somebody woulda told ’em that Hov’ would sell clothin’/Heh, not in this lifetime, wasn’t in my right mind,” while pointing to the jersey he is wearing, the he helped design, on stage in the arena of the NBA team he is a partial owner of isn’t rapper hyperbole. It’s the American Dream come true.
After bigging up his fallen rap brethren with a moment of silence (imagine if B.I.G. was here to witness and no doubt be a part of this?), Jigga dropped some all new bars before performing more trademark cuts like “99 Problems” and “Run This Town.” He also took a break to speak about his local roots, like growing up in Marcy Projects, which was only 15 minutes away and reminiscing his old State St apartment that sits diagonally from Barclays.
“I’m really overwhelmed with the moment,” said Jay. “Nothing feels like it feels tonight to be in Brooklyn, New York City.”
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