Image Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com“Let’s go, Yankees,” chanted fans last night in the Bronx, New York, home of Major League Baseball’s defending champions. But they weren’t there to see Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez smash it out of the park. The sold-out crowd filled the new Yankee Stadium to see two of hip-hop’s greatest and most accomplished talents, Eminem and native son Jay-Z, bring the young venue its first show. Two weeks ago, the combo kicked off the first half of their Home and Home mini-tour at Detroit’s Comerica Park. There Em, was the night’s closer. But on Monday night, he set things off.
The chants flipped to cheers when Em’s spacey intro began on the jumbo screen. Like Star Wars movies begin–with a storyline text appearing as we travel across the galaxy–so did his, chronicling his heavily covered road from troubled drug addict to sobriety. “You are here to witness,” it concluded, “Eminem’s RECOVERY.”
In a black tee, shorts, and a matching hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head, Em crept on stage to “Won’t Back Down,” rapping with fierce intensity. As he spit on the track, “Shady’s got the mass appeal.” And was apparent. From jump, fans made the Motor City rhymer feel right at home, rapping along word-for-word.
“Politically correct” and Eminem don’t go together. Animations of a redneck with a mullet and his beat-up car were met with laughs when he performed “W.T.P. (White Trash Party).” His fans are a different kind of breed—a more twisted bunch who somehow relate to some of his most violent and mortifying lyrics like, “B—-, I’mma kill you” from the aptly titled “Kill You.” And they obeyed his command to raise their middle fingers and say, “F— you, momma!” before he launched into “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.” After a brief set with his group D12, B.o.B, who opened the show, came back out to perform his “Airplanes” alongside Em, but that guest appearance was just a warm up for what was to come.
Find out who the other surprises were and how Jay-Z did after the jump.
In a Gucci jacket and red Yankees cap, 50 Cent popped out to perform their collaboration “Patiently Waiting” from the Queens, NY native’s 2003 debut. 50 took over from there, bringing out his G-Unit for “In Da Club” and darkening the stage to show that his jacket and hat lit up. But Em’s last guest was his biggest: Dr. Dre. Halfway through name-checking the iconic producer of “My Name Is,” Dre strolled out, brawny in a black tee shirt to perform his classics “Still D.R.E.” and “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang.” After promising that his oft-delayed Detox album “is coming” without declaring any finite date, he left. The crowd went nuts. Though it’s more than a decade in the making, they still believe it will be worth the wait. Then it was back to Em.
Winding down his set, he performed his 2002 cut “Without Me.” To follow Eminem’s career is to also take a journey through pop culture; his songs are littered with references to dead pop groups like ‘N Sync and the Spice Girls and past presidents like Clinton and Bush. At 37, it’s hard to believe he’s been round so long. It shows hip-hop isn’t a young man’s sport. Like in other genres, the best age gracefully and their value appreciates. Em closed with “Not Afraid,” but noticing that he hadn’t treated the stadium to one of his biggest hits, an encore was in order. He returned to perform his inspirational “Lose Yourself.”
On “Without Me,” he rapped, “Now this looks like a job for me/ So everybody, just follow me/ Cause we need a little, controversy/ Cause it feels so empty, without me.” During his four-year absence, his presence was missed. Now back on the straight and narrow, the controversy may not be as great. That’s a good thing. With the show he gave, why would we want anybody else but this him?
“I missed you motherf——,” he said before leaving the stage. “Did you miss me?” Deafening screams confirmed they did. For a second, it seemed like it was going to be a hard act to follow for Jay-Z to follow. I should’ve know better.
Check out how Jay did after the jump.
Wearing a black leather jacket, sunglasses, and matching everything else, Jay hit the stage just shy of 11pm performing his “Dynasty Intro,” a cult favorite. It wasn’t even three minutes into the show before chants of “Hova!” filled the stadium. Backed by his band, the Roc Boys, Jay, 40, didn’t hesitate to pull out the big guns early. After rapping his second verse on “Run This Town,” Kanye West, in a red leather blazer, matching pants, and a cheetah print shirt launched out to spit his verse. What followed was a mini-set of Jay and West. The pair ran through West’s “Power” remix and even brought out Nicki Minaj for “Monster.” Then Jay let his little brother rock on his own with “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” and “Good Life.” Kanye tripped over some of his lyrics, but the crowd loved it just the same.
Producer and hypeman extraordinaire Swizz Beatz ran on for “On to the Next One.” While Eminem returned for their “Renegade” duet. After a commemorative segment to fallen rap icons like the Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Guru, and more, Jay asked the crowd to “Put up your diamonds in the air. I like the way that looked.” Then “P.S.A.” rang out of the speakers.
When time came to do “Heart of the City,” one of Jay’s of most introspective songs, he brought out close friend and Coldplay leading man Chris Martin to massive cheers. Then Martin got on the piano to play a riff of his “Clocks” as Jay used his “Most Kingz” verse to rhyme over it. Martin closed his visit with one of his band’s biggest hits: “Viva La Vida.” From end to end, the audience quaked singing the song’s harmonious hook.
As if asking randomly, Jay requested that his DJ to “give me anything.” The instrumental for Drake’s “Miss Me” was the pick. And like clockwork, the rap prince—also dressed all in black—jumped out for a surprise. The two performed Drake’s “Light Up” for the first time as well. Just when the crowd caught their collective breaths, Jay’s wife, pop queen Beyoncé joined him. In a black sequined dress, she glided downstairs to meet her man for “Young Forever.” “That girl bad,” Jay said as she walked off. “That girl tough! S—!” The show basically concluded with his hometown homage, “Empire State of Mind.” Though Jay managed to cram in several other classics like “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and “Encore” to the delight of many.
Proud of himself, Jay said, “Damn, I’m so cool. I’m so cool it’s not even f——‘ fair.” And then he asked the crowd for one last favor: “Make some noise!” Of course they did. Yeah, he’s cool. But the best way to describe this night was legendary. “This is a historic night,” Jay said earlier in the evening. “There will never be another night like this.” Hip-hop, birthed in that very Bronx borough 30-something years ago on street corners, had it’s inaugural showing at Yankee Stadium—home base on its most grand scale. Historic, indeed.
The Home and Home finale is tonight at Yankee Stadium. Will you be there tonight? Have you seen Jay or Em perform before? Was it the best hip-hop show ever? Let us know.
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