Rap star Jay-Z lived up to the billing as Brooklyn Barclays Center’s first live act Friday (September 28) night by igniting an intense performance with a special unannounced guest appearance.
While Jay ran through a slew of his own hit records, he also treated concertgoers to a new freestyle.
“Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of where I’m from,” Hov told the crowd before launching into the hard-hitting “Where I’m From” from his 1997 album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. The homage didn’t stop there; next was the Santigold-sampling “Brooklyn We Go Hard” followed by a heartfelt cover of the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Kick in the Door” and then a crowd sing-a-long of Biggie’s first hit “Juicy.” After stripping off his bubble vest revealing a black Nets jersey with the number four on his chest (to commemorate his own December 4 birthday), the God MC tore through tracks like “99 Problems,” “Run This Town” and “Empire State of Mind” one by one. He even threw in a brand-new a cappella freestyle to the crowd’s delight. “Shooters on my team,no really I got shooters on my team,” he spit, making reference to his part ownership of the Nets and the street ties he still claims to carry. (RapFix)
Although Jay’s immediate Roc family like Rihanna and Kanye West were not around for the festivities, Young Hov relied on a local New York legend to make the night even more memorable.
Another Brooklynite — Big Daddy Kane — made an appearance, performing songs like “Ain’t No Half Steppin'” and “Warm It Up, Kane.” He received a roaring cheer from the crowd when performing old-school dance moves with two dancers in all white. Jay-Z said Friday’s concert was incomparable to most of his other top-level performances, including the Grammys, Glastonbury or Coachella. “Nothing feels like tonight,” he told the crowd multiple times. (Washington Post)
In light of the evening’s celebrating, there were a reported handful of protestors outside the event.
But not everyone who showed up outside the Barclays Center Friday was excited about the opening. Protesters remain upset that the developer’s promise to build housing near the arena hasn’t happened. “They promised 10,000 permanent jobs and it’s not about waiting,” said Daniel Goldstein, the founder of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn. “Bruce Ratner promised within a year of building this there would be four towers of housing up.” Defenders of the arena say once the packed concerts and basketball games begin, money will flow into the community. Supporters see Friday’s Jay-Z concert, which is expected to bring in 20,000 fans, as the start of a new chapter in Brooklyn’s history. (NBC Philadelphia)
Last Friday, the Barclays Center doors finally opened to select media outlets.
After decades without a professional sports team, New York City’s ascendant borough hit the major leagues again on Friday with the opening of the Brooklyn Nets’ new arena. The state-of-the-art, 18,000-seat arena will be officially christened Sept. 28 with a rap concert by Nets co-owner and native Brooklynite Jay-Z. Supporters cheered Friday as the lights were turned on during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is going to send a loud and clear message that Brooklyn has arrived as a center of exciting entertainment, thrilling big time sports and thriving commerce,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the crowd. (NBA)
Check out Jay-Z’s Barclays Center freestyle below: