Jay-Z took the stage at the Barclays Center at 9:46pm to the cheers of over 18,000 fans wearing many different titles. Brooklyn Nets minority owner, stakeholder in the Barclays Center, recording artist, entrepreneur, son, husband, and father, but the title that probably surpassed them all on Friday night was Brooklynite. “What’s up New York City! Tonight is a celebration. A celebration of the borough where I’m from” the former Marcy housing projects resident excitedly shouted.
The event was nine years in the making, and Jigga reflected on the first meeting that made the night possible while on stage. “Bruce came to meet me at the 40/40 (club)” he said, referring to Bruce Ratner, then New Jersey Nets majority owner who was determined to get the Nets to Brooklyn. Nine years later, Jay-Z opened the arena, the first performer in the state-of-the-art $1 billion arena. When reflecting on the many venues he’s performed at throughout the world, he declared “nothing feels like tonight Brooklyn I swear to God.”
Perhaps Mr. “All Black Everything”, who took the stage in black jeans, a limited edition black Brooklyn Nets jersey with the number four and Carter on the back, a hooded vest, and Nets cap, had a lot of say in the look and feel of the arena. The 18,103 seats in the arena, which Jay refers to as “H-O’s H-O,” are all black, with Barclays Center written on them. It gives the arena a dark, ominous feel. The seat was very comfortable when I sat in it, as I, like the rest of the crowd, spent most of my night on my feet.
The set list spanned Hova’s entire career, as he performed songs from his first album, Reasonable Doubt, released in 1996, to verses on two recent collaborations, “Three Kings” with Dr. Dre and Rick Ross, and “Clique” with Kanye West and Big Sean. The biggest shock of the night was the lack of guest appearances, and the one guest who took the stage. Brooklyn hip-hop pioneer Big Daddy Kane came out toward the end of the show and performed three songs while Jay-Z left the stage. Kane performed his classics, “Aint No Half Steppin’”, “Set It Off” and “Warm It Up Kane”, and was joined onstage by his long-time dancers, Scoop and Scrap Lover.
Among the dozens of celebrities in attendance Friday night were Jay-Z’s wife, recording superstar and actress Beyonce, former basketball superstar, entrepreneur and minority Los Angeles Dodgers owner Magic Johnson, music producer and recording artist Pharrell Williams, New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams, New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler, Kentucky University head coach John Calipari, Brooklyn Nets head coach Avery Johnson, Comedian Dave Chappelle, NBC news personality Al Roker, music producer Irv Gotti, and Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King.
“Ya’ll don’t mind if I take my time, I’m overwhelmed by all of this,” Shawn Carter said during the show. Later, he added “I don’t know how I’m going to do eight nights after this. Tonight has been amazing” he said, referring to the physical and emotional drain of the evening. In hindsight, I do see why it was important for Jay-Z to shine solo on a night that probably represents the biggest accomplishment in a career with numerous peaks rarely accomplished by any performer, let alone a hip-hop artist. But this is something that Jay-Z has consistently done in his career, and, once again, with the opening of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, he has done what many thought was impossible. “I want to thank you New York City for making me the man I am today” Carter said toward the end of the night. The borough of Brooklyn and New York City are both better off with the arena, and Jay-Z is one of the biggest reasons it was accomplished. I’m sure the City has said thank you in return.
For previous coverage of Jay-Z on the Razz and Jazz Sports Blog, check out our review of the Grand Reopening of the 40/40 Club here. https://razzandjazzsports.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/photos-and-recap-of-4040-grand-reopening/
“Where I’m From”
“Brooklyn We Go Hard”
“Kick in the Door” (Notorious B.I.G.)
“Juicy” (Notorious B.I.G.)
“U Don’t Know”
“Run This Town”
“Empire State of Mind”
“On to the Next One”
“Dirt Off Your Shoulder”
“I Just Wanna Love U (Give it 2 Me)
“Murder Marcyville (South Philly Niggaz)”
“Dead Presidents II”
“Can I Live”
“Public Service Announcement”
“Jigga My Nigga”
“Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)”
“Hard Knock Life” (Ghetto Anthem)
“Heart of the City (Aint No Love)”
“What More Can I Say”
“Do It Again (Put Ya Hand Up)”
“Aint No Half Steppin (Big Daddy Kane)
“Set It Off” (Big Daddy Kane)
“Warm It Up Kane” (Big Daddy Kane)
“Best of Me” (remix)
“Money Aint a Thang”