When you go to see Jay-Z, you expect to see a superstar. His latest tour, the Magna Carter World Tour delivers just that. From the stripped down, yet impressive stage design consisting of basic lights and giant monitors, to the musical partnership of Timberland on the turntables, everything reflects the vision of a polished professional.
Timberland warmed the crowd up briefly before the lights come down and the epic first bars of “Public Service Announcement” introduced Jay to the stage. He came on with a focused energy, delivering his bars flawlessly. Halfway through the song, Timberland switched the beat up and Jay jumped right in, setting the “anything can happen” tone for the show.
Jay played almost every track off his new album during the 1.5 hour set, while also throwing in deep cuts that speak to his most hardcore fans. A personal favorite was when he played a stripped down version of “Dead Presidents” off his classic album Reasonable Doubt.
Jay made sure to pause from playing his stream of hits – including “Holy Grail”, “New York”, “Clique” and “Hard Knock Life” – to give his band a few moments to shine. As he introduced them, they each improvised a bit on their instruments. Jay was right there with them, rapping along in an effortless display of talent.
But despite the technical and emotional prowess Jay displayed, his interaction with the crowd was the most impressive. He looked into the faces of almost everyone in the front row and in much of the stands. “You, in the tribal print”, he said pointing “I see you rocking”. As he made his shoutouts the camera panned around to the excited crowd. He saw a girl in a Nets jersey near the front and called her onstage. He signed her jersey laughing “I guess we signing stuff and everything tonight”.
He then got humble and thanked everyone for being fans before playing “Forever Young”, which he dedicated to Nelson Mandela. “Dreams live on” he said, as the crowd held up their cell phones and lighters.
Jay-Z delivered hits, musicianship, comedy all while maintaining a strong connection to the crowd like I have never seen. It’s unsurprising that he continues to tour, and his shows reflect a veteran performer who never took success for granted. As a fan, I was not disappointed, and plan to see Hova again whenever I can – and next time I’ll wear a Nets jersey.