With just a month and a half before his 4:44 jaunt of major cities and their venues starts, JAY-Z certainly looks to be in game shape. On Friday (Sept. 15), Hov was the headliner of night one of the Meadows Festival in Queens. It took place in the Met's Citi Field parking lot.
It's always a must-see when Jay hits the stage in his hometown of New York, but it's especially refreshing to see the Jiggaman descend up Queens when most of his NY concerts over the years have been in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Long Island.
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JAY came out shooting from the three-point line with his new concert staples "Run This Town" and "No Church in the Wild." After the latter, Jay told the tens of thousand crammed in to see him that "Love trumps hate. We are the most powerful thing. Not a president, the people."
Fitting the mood and sentiment of his words, Max Romeo's "Chase The Devil," blared through the night: "I'm going to put on an iron shirt, and chase the Devil outta Earth / I'm going to chase him outer space / To find another race."
"She doing the 'Pepper Seed,'" Jay said with an amused light snicker, talking to a lady in a close-up row by the stage.
The short interlude led the song that famously sampled "Chase The Devil," the Black Album's "Lucifer."
The dancehall vibe continued, making the first foray into _4:44 _with "Bam."
"F--k all that pretty shit n---a, Hov!" Jay yelled, exciting the crowd. Then like a Don Daddy selector, he yelled for the song to be pulled up. "Bam" was restarted, but this time, Damien "Jr. Gong" Marley came out with a flag bearer waving the colors of Jamaica.
Marley later performed his international blockbuster, "Welcome to Jam Rock."
After delving more into his later LP with "Marcy Me" and "Family Feud," Hov fired off one of his most consistent weapons in his arsenal, the backboard breaking "U Don't Know."
"Wear a G on my chest, shout out to Dapper Dan," he rapped, saluting the legendary Harlem designer. Hov also made slight alterations to his lyric on "Heart of the City," "Jigga held you down 20 summers, damn."
"The Story of O.J." started with arguably the greatest MC ever dedicating the record to still unemployed NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and recently deceased comedian and activist Dick Gregory.
A barrage of "Jigga My N---a," "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and "Big Pimpin'" made it feel like solar flames could illuminate that dark Q-Borough sky.
"These muthaf--kas live as s--t," Jay said with a grin, talking to longtime friend and engineer, Young Guru. "I think we ready for tour now."
Before he closed out, Hov had one more dedication.
"To a great man who's no longer with us, Chester Bennington," Jay addressed the audience. "I want y'all to sing it so loud he can hear y'all in Heaven."
A heart-touching moment for a fallen comrade, the mash-up of "Numb/Encore" followed.
Earlier in the day, the Meadows Fest kicked off with performances by 21 Savage, Joey Badass, The Migos, Run The Jewels and Blood Orange. The festival continues through the weekend Future, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Big Boi, Erykah Badu and Queen's Finest Nas and LL Cool J.