Jay Z is the greatest mainstream rapper alive. It’s as simple as that. So when he plays a show in London, you know I’m going to be there. Having seen him before, I knew he’d put on a great show, but nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead. After having seen Kano rep for the UK and then seeing the crowd go crazy for latest up-and-comer Lupe Fiasco, DJ Green Lantern dropped a nice medley of Jigga songs to warm the crowd up before the man himself stepped on the stage with a casual demeanour which was his own way of swaggering.
Joined on stage by his hype man Memphis Bleek, Jay Z belted out What More Can I Say, Hola Hovito, IZZO [Hova], and even dropping AC/DC’s Back In Black as he rapped his huge hit 99 Problems. The crowd was pumped already, enjoying the music and the man himself as he split the arena in two, the people on his left being instructed to say “Jigga What” with us on his right shouting “Jigga Who” as that classic blasted out.
Personal favourite Dirt Off Your Shoulder was followed by Is That Yo Chick, with the Missy Elliott sample firing up even more cheers, and the old classic Can I Get A… brought the house down. Basically, Jay Z’s laid back flow and his calm interaction with the crowd was perfect amongst the pyro and shooting pillars of fire coming out from behind the stage. But something was coming that no-one was ready for and as soon as it happened, the volume was cranked up that bit higher.
Enter Nas. The rapper that famously had beef with Jay Z, but has since patched it up with the man who is now his boss, stepped out on stage and for a second there was silence as no-one could believe their eyes, but soon order was restored and the noise was deafening. If I Ruled The World, Hate Me Now and Made You Look were peppered at the baying thousands, before the highlight of the night happened – Jay and Nas teaming up on Dead Presidents.
After the heartfelt Song Cry, we had another special guest, with Jay Z’s current squeeze Beyoncé stepping to the stage to perform Crazy In Love, gyrating against her man during his verse. With Hard Knock Life gaining a sing-a-long, Jay performed a medley of tracks to celebrate the lives of Tupac, Jam Master Jay, Eazy E, Aaliyah, Left Eye and Biggie and ended with his encore of Big Pimpin’ and Encore. As glitter fell down on the crowd and pyro shot down from the ceiling, Jay Z told a male fan wearing a pink shirt that “you gotta be strong to pull that off”. He is a born entertainer and everyone left the Arena that night knowing that they got one hell of a show.