Last night, Rapper and Hip-Hop superstar Jay Z took to Chicago's United Center. While the floor underneath is home to the NHL Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, and the weather outside is just beginning to rise above zero, Jay Z's hot show hyped and warmed up an enthusiastic, diverse crowd ready to brush off the snow and shake some tail feathers.
After a DJ got the crowd dancing, the headliner took to the stage to the in a somewhat muted outfit of black cargo pants, black gym shoes, black t-shirt, black leather jacket with gold embroidery, and a black leather baseball cap (his second outfit was a simple t-shirt change and the addition of about 6 braided gold chains.) The night was full of popular hits, dance anthems, and a bit of freestyle (mostly courtesy of artist/producer Timbaland as part of the backing band) and good-natured hype. Fans loved every single song, bouncing their hands in the air and bobbing in their seats. At one point in the show, Jay Z stopped the song to encourage fans to enjoy their night by dancing in the aisles and stand on their seats if they wish, much to the dismay of arena security. He stated, "You paid for these tickets. You deserve to dance and have a good time. I got money, I'll pay the Fire Marshall his $50,000 fee. I got money, that ain't no thing for me. Security, stand down!" Fans cheered, and got just a little deeper into their music-fueled merriment.
The stage setup and presentation were fairly simple, with a black iron grid structure hung above and below the stage, with white panels changing colors (much like a muted 70's disco club floor). There were two keyboard players/programmers, one guy on a drum set, and one man playing guitar, bass, and some keys as well. All added a greater texture to the pre-recorded sound tracks (and vocals for duets, like Bruno Mars and Rihanna) typical of most Pop Rap and Hip-Hop concerts. The overall delivery was fairly straight forward, no fluff such as backup singers of dancers. As emcee, Jay Z wove a few expected concert actions into the night such as playing "sides" of the arena crowds off one another, asking people to bounce in unison, and chatting with a few lovely ladies in the front row in between songs. He was on-point with his rhymes, and it's easy to see why his easy-flowing, non-alienating club bangers are so popular. Both he and his music boast a good balance of attitude, sincerity, hype, and smiles.
Overall, it was an entertaining night for Jay Z fans, and just the kind of warm up all needed in the midst of an urban tundra cold snap. Click on slideshow above to view more photos by Brigette Supernova / Outer Focus Photos.
Below is the evening's setlist (please comment if the order or titles are incorrect on any listed):
U Don't Know
On To The Next One
Beach Is Better
Dead Presidents II
Can I Live
No Church in the Wild
Somewhere in America
Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)
Dirt Off Your Shoulder
I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
Niggas in Paris
Public Service Announcement (Interlude)
Run This Town
Empire State of Mind
Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)