The rest of the concerts I attend in 2010 have a lot to live up to. Jay-Z nearly tore the roof off Philips Arena when The Blueprint 3 Tour rolled thru Atlanta, GA on Saturday.
Having never seen Jay-Z in concert before (besides the 20+ viewings of “Fade to Black”), I was more than amped for Saturday night. The last arena rap show I attended was probably Anger Management 2 tour with Eminem, Xzibit and Ludacris, so I was due. Our seats were two rows from the floor, directly across from the stage, which turned out to be a near-perfect elevated view of the Blueprint 3 spectacle.
This Is Roc Nation Pledge Your Allegiance
Jay-Z got things off the a fiery start from the opening beat of “Run This Town” as he triumphantly rose from the center of the stage. If it weren’t for his backing band, Roc Boys, the beat wouldn’t have even been audible from the crowd’s eruption to welcome the Jigga man. BP3’s current single, “On To The Next One” received a wild response as Philips Arena bounced with every note while the video played on the giant, tier screens behind the band. Hits came fast and furious as Memphis Bleek played hypeman on classics like “U Don’t Know”, “I Just Wanna Luv You”, and “99 Problems”, which sounded extra fitting with the Roc Boys’ drum section.
Allow Me To Reintroduce Myself
Jay made sure to get the crowd involved before the end of his enigmatic first set. I definitely wasn’t expecting to hear “Jigga My N****”, but it was exactly the call and response track the audience was looking for answering each of “whats my mutha*****’ name?”. “Jigga What? Jigga Who?” possibly had the crowd at its most boisterous until “PSA” followed and had each attendee throwing up “the Roc”. That Just Blaze production just seems so fitting in that type of setting. Singer Bridget Kelly fantastically played the substitute for “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” and “Empire State Of Mind” while the NYC buildings played the background. Even opener Trey Songz helped out admirably subbing for Kid Cudi on “Already Home”. I pretty much would have got my money’s worth if we would have stopped right there.
Its Understood, I Do It For My Hood
Young Jeezy entered to a rowdy, hometown greeting to help Mr. Carter with “As Real As It Gets” and proceeded thru a 30 minute set of his own hits. Though Jeezy’s coarse voice isn’t as microphone friendly as Jay’s, he still could learn a few things from S. Carter (the Plies guest appearance didn’t help things). There were definitely some die hards in the crowd reciting lyrics to some of his lesser known album cuts, but the energy couldn’t match Jay-Z’s first set. Young Jeezy finished strong though with “Go Crazy”, “Soul Survivor” and “Put On” before handing the festivities back to Hova.
Can’t Wear Skinny Jeans…
Jay-Z came back just in time to rescue the momentum he built off the first set, giving his choice guest spot on “My President Is Black”. The pro-Obama theme continued with a quick clip of the President “brushing off” his shoulders and set the crowd off in a frenzy for a spirited rendition of “Dirt Off Your Shoulders”. I’m not sure which set I liked best, but the second certainly had more surprises and was possibly more raucous. Unfortunately, there was no T.I. appearance for “Swagga Like Us”, but “Thank You” was punctuated by Jay’s accapella verse directed at disrespectful peers and aptly lead to “Haters”.
Can I Get An Encore, Do You Want More?
Highlights kept coming at a rapid pace as Jay & Memphis Bleek traded bars on a medley that ran thru everything from “Fiesta” to “Excuse Me Miss Pt. 2 (La La La)” to perhaps most surprising, the remix to Mya’s “Best of Me”. Mr. Carter exclaimed “I got a millions of these!”, that statement couldn’t be truer. “Can I Get A…” and “Big Pimpin'” turned Philips Arena into an all out party as he let the crowd handle Pimp C’s verse, while swinging shirts like Carnivale. Jay-Z closed the show for true fans “who’d been down since ’96” with Reasonable Doubt cuts, “Can I Live” and “Can’t Knock the Hustle”. The Roc Boy’s band brought out the horns and made “Can I Live” one of my favorites of the night. Before dropping “Encore” from The Black Album, he made sure to let his fans know he’s not jaded and appreciates his fans. He even called out specific people in the audience who were rocking with him for the entire show. Not something I’ve seen at a big name, hip-hop concert before. “Dynasty” symbols and arms raised while Jay-Z finished a great night in dramatic fashion.
I’m not saying I won’t ever attend an arena hip-hop concert again, but if I do, it will most like be to see Shawn Carter again. His performance was the best by a rapper that I’ve witnessed and nearly top in any genre. I’m not sure why it took me so long to see a Jay-Z concert, but my hip-hop greats concert lists is nearly complete.
Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg
More photos from The Blueprint 3 Tour here (courtesy of AJC and Rob D. Cohen)