Jay-Z at the Barclays Center: or Every Generation Gets the Hova It Deserves

Yeah, I Instagrammed the shit out of this, but, in my defense, Al Roker did the SAME THING with his Hova pics on Twitter.


This is all about Brooklyn tonight.
What’s up NYC?
Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of where I’m from.
It’s Brooklyn in the house.

There was no way to forget where you were on Friday night, not if you were in the Barclays Center like I was, watching Jay-Z take the stage for the first of his eight shows. This was Brooklyn. Brooklyn was everywhere. On stage, Jay wore a Nets hat and jersey (number 4, of course, “CARTER”) and people were eating food from Fatty Cue and Nathan’s and drinking Stella—when they could get it, that is, lots of the kegs near the floor seats were empty an hour before the show even started. Which was frustrating, sure, but it didn’t really matter because there was always another place to get beer, another line to stand on, another middle-aged dude with a cell-phone holster wearing a brand-new “Ball So Hard” t-shirt, partially tucked into his belted jeans, to snicker at. Yeah, we were definitely in Brooklyn.

What is that saying? “Every generation gets the heroes it deserves”? Or something like that? Well, I think that maybe every generation gets the Jay-Z it deserves. And the Jay-Z we got on the first night of his Barclays Center performances was notable for shouting out to a lot of past glories and talking a lot about the promise of the future, but also for seeming a little bit subdued in the present. Not that Jay claimed to feel out of sorts. No, in his words, “I’ve performed at the Grammys, I did Glastonbury, I tore Coachella up. Nothing feels like tonight.” And maybe that was true. Maybe Jay-Z’s reaction to feeling “overwhelmed” was just to retreat inside of himself a bit and go through his playlist, perform well, but not on the inspired, energized, once-in-a-lifetime level that everyone wanted to see.

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