Fresh off one of his best albums and a sold out tour, Jay-Z showed why a near 50-year-old rapper can still get a crowd full of millennials to come together for nearly two hours at The Meadows Festival.
As lights dimmed and a Jeff Koons balloon was made visible on stage, Jay-Z emerged with a grin on his face. The crowd began to chant “Hova” as he performed his verse from “Run This Town” which easily rolled into “No Church In the Wild.”
“I’m gonna say something right now,” Jay said as the beat of “No Church” could still faintly be heard. “I’m not gonna talk your ear off all night… but love always trumps hate.”
…love always trumps hate.
With that, “Lucifer” rang off until Damian Marley popped up to sing his chorus on the island-tinged “Bam.” Soon after Jay said, “Fuck all that pretty Sean Carter shit, n-gga Hov,” the lights began to flicker and the crowd erupted, knowing every word he uttered. The hits were just beginning as the crowd filled in for an absent Alicia Keys for the hook of “Empire State Of Mind” and everyone knew that if Jeezy is paying LeBron James, he was paying Dwyane Wade.
Hov continued to make it known that he was in his city with a medley that led to “Where I’m From” and the Gotham City’s heartbeat that is “Marcy Me.” He continued with bass heavy hits like”FuckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt”, and “Family Fued” before giving an encore of “Beach Is Better.”
I want to dedicate this song to anyone who was held back.
“I want to dedicate this song to Colin Kaepernick tonight,” Jay said between verses. “I want to dedicate this song to anyone who was held back.”
B-sides appeared to be off-limits until he performed acapella version of the oft-forgotten loosie “Dear Summer” as he quickly transitioned into major bangers like “Dirt Off Ya Shoulder,””Izzo (HOVA)”and the Pharrell-assisted chart topper “I Just Wanna Love U.”
In pure Hov fashion, as he bounced back and forth between decades for each hit, he made the crowd part of his set. Lyrics that we all knew were shouted back towards the stage in unison, and the crowd listened when Mr. Carter had a request. When asked what’s better than spending money in the strip club, everyone shouted, “Credit!” When he specifically instructed a man with a hot pink Roc-A-Fella shirt to make a mosh pit, a circle was made as the crowd yelled “that shit cray” for the umpteenth time.
To end things on a poignant note, Jay dedicated “Numb / Encore” to Chester Bennington— Linkin Park frontman who committed suicide July 20, 2017 and left the crowd with the reflective “Forever Young.”
And just like that it was over. The jumbotrons went back and Hov— who donned a pair of Nike X OFF WHITE Blazers and a t-shirt emblazoned with The Beatles Help! cover— bowed and disappeared behind Young Guru’s turntables. For one night only, The King Of New York was in Queens, and the crowd appreciated every moment of it.