Time Warner Cable Arena
Jan. 4, 2014
Whew. That would have been embarrassing. After all, this was Jay Z's first time back to Charlotte since performing here in 1999 (with DMX, Redman and Method Man) - we needed to make a good impression.
With a sweet hint of weed in the air, a little after 9 p.m., Jay Z came on stage - no hype man, no opening act - and promised the audience a legendary night. And for longtime fans, he delivered.
While the show wasn't spectacular in any regard - no flashy backup dancers, no elaborate stage setup, no theatrics (and definitely no flying over the audience like Beyonce did last summer) - it felt genuine. Just Jay Z, wearing all black and a few gold chains, a four-piece band elevated above him (including the talented beats maker Timbaland) and two large, narrow video screens bordering each side of the stage.
(As a person who spends a lot of time checking her email on her phone, I saw the screens as two large iPhones - ironic, considering that shameful practice you see nowadays at concerts where people watch entire performances through the screens of their smartphones. Was Jay Z trying to reach through the fourth wall here?)
Despite the tour promoting his twelfth studio album, the rapper only showcased about half of Magna Carter and filled the rest of the almost two hours he was on stage with hits the audience kept up with: "Big Pimpin'," "Jigga What, Jigga Who," "Dirt Off Your Shoulders," "Izzo" and more.
Maybe that's why one of the greatest rappers of all time seems like a pretty cool dude. While he didn't deviate from the script he's followed throughout this tour, the rapper acknowledged his fans - most who were on their feet the entire time - and their devotion in not only buying a ticket to the concert that night, but more than likely also spending money on a new outfit, a babysitter and even gas. Prior to going full throttle on "In Paris," Jay Z told the audience to dance in the aisles, even stand up in their chairs if they wanted to.
"Security," Jay Z said, "stand down."
And the crowd went wild. Charlotte represented well Saturday night for the Jigga Man. Including the girl in the front row Jay Z gave props to for choosing fashion over possible comfort in her fur vest. Even if she did retreat into duck face mode when the camera spotlighted her.
P.S.- Can someone please book Timbaland to spin tunes at a CIAA party this year?
P.P.S.- On the same night Hova, the "god of rap" was performing in the Queen City to a nearly sold-out venue, the "king of R&B," R. Kelly (whom Jay Z collaborated with on two albums) was hours late to a concert in my hometown, Augusta, Ga. Many attendees demanded their money back after a lackluster show when R. Kelly finally did show up. I guess I see why the two performers have gone in different directions since they toured together so many years ago.
(Editor's Note - This post has been updated to reflect that Jay Z performed in Charlotte in 1999 as part of his Hard Knock Life Tour.)
Empire State of Mind
Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)