In 2011, I had just returned from Afghanistan, so I was on my “Eat, Pray, Love” status. My favorite adventures were concert hopping. Beyonce, Jill Scott, Hov and Ye…I did them all.
But this year I fell back on those expenses. So when tickets went on sale for Jay-Z in July, I wasn’t trying to pay $300 to see Jay, especially since I saw him a few months prior. However, the proud Brooklynite in me wanted to witness this magnificent spectacle taking place in my borough. I’d hate to be the one 50 years from now after Mr. Carter is long gone, have my grandkids ask me if I was there when he made history and say “I didn’t go.” *sad. wrinkly face* I would lose all their respect like how I feel about old people in the South who chose not to march with Dr. King because they didn’t feel like standing outside in the heat.
The Lord knows my struggles, so as I was looking for cheap tickets for the shows this week…I received a text message from my guardian angel. (S/O to my guardian angel and President of the New York Association of Black Journalists, Feenz!) “I got a ticket for Jay’s show, if you want it. I was gonna sell it, but you can have it.” Prayers answered. It wasn’t the best seat and it was one ticket so I was rolling dolo in the nosebleed, but I was gonna be live in Barclays Center for Jay-Z’s inaugural concerts.
My friend went the previous Saturday so he wasn’t pressed to go back again. He suggested I arrived early, but being that I was only three train stops away, I didn’t rush. I was in the building within 30 minutes, including the train ride and the wait on line to get in. Since I came alone, I spent time walking around the arena to really get a sense of this reality. I’ve read articles and interviews and blog posts surrounding the hype and anticipation of the grand opening to one of the largest entertainment construction projects Brooklyn has seen since Ebbets Field opened before World War I. I didn’t expect I’d need tissue. Anyone who knows me, knows anything I represent, I go HARD. I can truly believe why Jay feels how he does about having a concert/sports venue in his hometown. Brooklyn people love to boast about what we can claim, so to have our own multi-purpose facility is another notch under our belt.
Okay…now on to the show.
After the Heavyhitters DJ (not sure which one) got the crowd warmed up,on a massive screen built into the stage showed a video montage of the history of Brooklyn from its inception in the 17th century as a new town to its growth into becoming a thriving borough. The video also showed the names and faces of well-known people born in Brooklyn including the Notorious B.I.G., Big Daddy Kane and Michael Jordan. One face that received a loud applause was for the late songstress Aaliyah who grew up in Detroit, but was born in Brooklyn. After the educational introduction, the man of the hour, literally, appeared. In his 60 -minute performance (minus the encore) he bounced around his catalogue of albums, performing old and new tracks. He did an acapella of “Can I Live” for all his Reasonable Doubt fans and took us down memory lane of with songs from Volume 1-3 to the Black Album to the Blueprint…you know the tracklists. No Biggie hologram though. Womp.
He rapped the verses to tracks he’s featured on such as the new hot “Clique,” and my fave, “3 Kings.” I clinched my seat hoping that maybe Big Sean or Ricky Rozay would come out for a cameo, but I had to remind myself this was a Jay-Z concert. I read a lot of reviews complaining about the lack of surprise guests on this show. This isn’t a national tour, nor is it called “Jay-Z & Friends.” I would have thoroughly liked if he brought out other artists, specifically Brooklyn artists because that might have kept the show to an uptempo and I wouldn’t have been dozing off in my seat after he reached the The Blueprint II songs….but I can’t be mad at him for giving the show he said he would. I think the best part of the show was when he was talking about how the media has downplayed the significance in the amount of ownership he has in the arena and the Brooklyn Nets and gave a really emotional and motivational speech. “I think the fact that I own any percentage of an arena and NBA franchise team is pretty fu**ing amazing,” he said. “Don’t let anyone diminish your accomplishments.” At that point, I couldn’t help but feel proud of this young black boy from the projects who had no idea these would be his accomplishments he speaks of.
This is your time Jay. Go head booboo. *In my Bey voice*
Another day in Brooklyn…YAY!!!!! (Feels good to be home!)
Photograph: Kevin Mazur/WireImage