Friday, September 24, 2010

Live Review - Jay-Z & Eminem @ Yankee Stadium

Jay-Z & Eminem 9/15/10 by Ramone Pesante*

and Eminem’s collaboration at Yankee Stadium is by far the closest
you’ll ever get to Woodstock in the Bronx. Not since Rage Against
the Machine
and Wu Tang Clan toured together have we seen two highly
talented but drastically different performers take the same stage. I
strongly emphasize the word “different” because these pioneers of
hip-hop represent two different spectrums, yet they are capable of
generating the same diverse appeal by the thousands.

I must say, it’s tricky to choose the perfect opening act for two of
the most highly celebrated hip-hop artists of all time. The decision
to go with B.O.B. was safe. His eccentric mix of rap, techno, rock,
and funk provided just enough to keep the crowd mildly entertained.
He led a powerless performance with his acoustic band that barely kept
my head rocking. A generic opening act was followed by an unnecessary
performance by J-Cole. Here we are, writing to see Eminem perform, and
we get this self-entitled snot-nosed whipper-snapper rapping about “A
Star is Born.” But the kid hasn’t even established an album yet!

Eminem took us on a musical journey from a young angry reject,
struggling for acceptance, to a superstar with staying power.
He stepped on stage performing, “Won’t Back Down,” my favorite track
off his latest album. His set list gave a strong indication that he
was avoiding the more disastrous tracks of his career. Performing
limited tracks from Relapse and Encore, focusing more on
Recovery and his earlier work. Tapping into the more immature days
for the sake of his old crew, D12, we watched his alter ego, Slim
Shady, prance around the stage rapping about things that contradict
Eminem’s Recovery. It seemed a bit out of character from his
current image, but it reminded me of why I liked him in the first

Dr. Dre's cameo was an entertaining tribute to the O.G.s (I almost
forgot he still existed.) Before leaving, he had to reassure the
world his long overdue Detox album was still on its way. I truly
believe the day it happens anyone who gives a damn will have already

50 Cent's contribution to the show was quick and painless. However,
his performance with Eminem was fresh, their chemistry still intact,
they remain the Batman and Robin of Hip Hop.

Eminem came to New York to perform for his New York fans, and he did
just that, but it wasn’t it wasn’t spectacular. I wish he’d spent a
little more time interacting with the crowd then just punching-in,
rapping, and punching-out.

Minutes before Jay-Z took the stage the anticipation grew.
The crowd by the stage swelled greatly. The out field grass was
replaced with bodies, among them, Will Smith walking into VIP area.
This was my first live Jay-Z concert, so I didn't fully understand the
aura this man radiated, but I felt it the moment he took the stage.

Standing under a single spotlight - a man and his microphone, equipped
to put on not just a show but an experience, Jay-Z subtly began the
introduction of the “Dynasty.” Part of what makes Jay-Z’s shows so
exciting is the artist he shares the stage with. His first
accomplice, Kanye West, performed some of his greatest hits. Watching
these two play with words felt like I was watching Jordan and Pipin
run drills.

Finally the moment we all were waiting for, Jay-Z and Eminem unite to
perform their only collaboration, “Renegade.” After the song was over,
Eminem quickly disappeared back stage. I guess their contractual
agreement was fulfilled. That would probably explain why they only
did one song together. I’d rate it the most forgettable performance
of the evening.

On the flipside, the most memorable moment of the evening was Jay-Z’s
performance of “Song Cry” with Mary J. Blige. The sound of this
woman’s voice in person had to be one of the most enchanting sounds
I’ve ever heard.

Hip Hop’s rookie of the year, Drake didn’t hide his inexperience by
fumbling his flow during his intro to “Up All Night.” Like a Jedi
molding his Padawan, Jay-Z insisted he start over.

Before the night was over Jay-Z’s final guest, and wife, Beyonce
performed “Forever Young.” The couple radiated on stage, so much so
you didn’t realized they completely butchered the song.

The warmest moment came at the end of the show. Jay-Z took his time
addressing people individually from the front of the stadium to the
back. A servant to the people, he made you feel like he was
performing specifically for you. He understands the personal
relationship between artist and fan and tailors his entire performance
to them. As a performer he deserves the same regard as U2, Coldplay
and Michael Jackson.

*Ramone Pesante is a contributing writer to