New York City’s own unofficial ambassador, Jay-Z, took the stage at Radio City Music Hall last night (Aug 12) for a special performance to kick off Nike’s World Basketball Festival.
The game was all about red, white and blue but Hov made it all black everything for his set, which included a 10-man live band—all dressed to the nines in black suits—an expertly orchestrated video and light show and a sensory overloading, Matrix-like digital backdrop.
Shawn Carter emerged from backstage, using “Hovi Baby” as the ice breaker, surveying the packed venue, confident in the fact that it was his house. He asked the crowd to hold their diamonds aloft and proceeded to launch into his 20-minute set. [Watch below]
Jay then went a capella for his verse on Kanye West’s “Diamonds (Remix).” During his performance of “Run This Town,” he urged the audience to sing Rihanna’s hook. Young Hov then conducted a quick roll call, getting the loudest response with the question: ”Is Brooklyn in here?”
The energy went up another notch when Swizz Beatz joined Jay on stage to help out with “On To The Next One.” Longtime hype man Memphis Bleek assisted the only artist to rack up 11 No. 1 albums perform hits from his extensive catalog, including “U Don’t Know,” “99 Problems,” “Dead Presidents II” and “Can I Live” from the certified classic LP, Reasonable Doubt.
All diamonds were once again in the sky for “Public Service Announcement” and “Already Home.” The finale, of course, was the Billboard chart topping single, “Empire State of Mind,” off the Roc Nation CEO’s latest release, The Blueprint 3. Alicia Keys wasn’t on hand to provide the vocals, but Jay made sure the NYC anthem was still the perfect icing on the cake for the show. —Maurice Bobb