Manhattan’s Carnegie Hall rarely opens its doors to rap artists — but then few rappers posses Jay-Z‘s clout. So on Monday and Tuesday of this week, Jigga graduated to an exclusive club of hip-hop artists to have taken to the venue’s prestigious stage, following in the small footsteps of Wyclef Jean, Mos Def, and original pioneers Afrika Bambaataa and Melle Mel’s 1985 performance. Dolled up in a tuxedo, Jigga’s presence was part of a fund-raising effort for New York’s United Way and his own Shawn Carter Scholarship Fund. Of course, ticket prices were stratospheric, with a spot in a box starting at $15,000. So for those whose pockets don’t run quite that deep, here’s Hive’s YouTube sourced highlights from the shows.
Back in January, Jay-Z celebrated the birth of his and Beyonce’s child, Blue Ivy, by releasing the song “Glory.” The first of his two Carnegie Hall gigs saw Jigga, all slicked-up in a black tuxedo, airing out the inaugural public performance of the tribute track. Fittingly, the stage was drenched in a blue lighting, while he ended by asking all the “very proud parents in the house tonight — make some noise for me!”
2. “Public Service Announcement (Interlude)”
Sparked by the sounds of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra, Jigga kicked off his debut show with this Black Album staple. At the sound of the menacing piano riff the suited-up crowd turned apoplectic. Cue Jigga, clad in a white Tom Ford dining jacket embellished with a Cartier diamond pin, spitting his infamous calling card: “Allow me to reintroduce myself, my name is Hov — H to the O-V/ I used to move snowflakes by the O-Z.”
3. “Empire State of Mind”
Jay’s new home-town anthem, the Broadway-sounding “Empire State Of Mind” was a shoe-in to be featured in his Carnegie series. Against a video backdrop of Manhattan’s nighttime skyline, Jigga brought out Alicia Keys to warble the hook and tinkle the ivories from behind a piano on stage.
4. “Money Ain’t a Thang”
For his cash-centric classic Jigga made his way up to the gods, kicking raps while perched on a seat in a balcony. With seats at the show starting at $1,500, the song’s sentiment was enthusiastically embraced by the philanthropic crowd.
5. “If I Ruled the World”
More Alicia action, this time with Jay inviting his one-time foe Nas on stage to run through his “If I Ruled The World” anthem while Keys took over Lauryn Hill’s role on the chorus duties. Embracing his Queens roots, Nasir performed in front of a recreation of the World’s Fair Unisphere. He also got into the swing of things and rented a tux for the night.