Its 21:20 on the first night of Jay-Z’s London shows; the nearly-full 02 arena has been shouting “Hova” for twenty minutes, taking a break only to rap along to Biggie’s anthem Juicy. Don’t worry; he kept us waiting no longer than was needed to get us fully pumped for what proved to be a solid performance.
As expected he took us through most of Magna Carta Holy Grail and some of these songs have already become crowd-pleasers. Despite what it said on the ticket, the ‘Special Guests’ (the likes of Nas, Justin Timberlake and Rick Ross) were only heard through the backing tracks, apart from Timbaland who also got his own improvised set. What made the ticket worth the price (and mine was particularly expensive…) were the classics. Once Timbaland had finished beatboxing and pushing his new material, Mr Carter came out all-gats blazing with hit after hit, from every album back to Reasonable Doubt, without any lines forgotten. The crowd stunned him into silence when we took over during N****s in Paris – he had to start it again. We loved it.
After the greatest hits had been rolled out, the keyboard player jammed quietly on the Empire State of Mind riff and Jay-Z took ten minutes to thank everybody and point out several twerkers. His show of appreciation was humble moment for the multi-billionaire music mogul. Finally, did we get an Encore? Of course we did.