You ever feel like you’re just part of a moment? Not in the pretentiously philosophical way, but in the sense that you’re witnessing history as its happening?
Thats how everyone at Terminal 5 felt thanks to Jay Z.
Last night (May 16), only the purest of hip-hop heads were treated to a two hour show at New York City’s Terminal 5 put on by Jay Z and Roc Nation. Tidal X: Jaÿ-Z B-Sides was to promote Jay’s recently launched and much debated music streaming service. Advertised as only “the deep cuts,” B-Sides was meant to cater to the true Jay Z fan who was with the Brooklyn boy back when he was slinging rock in ’96.
The energy was electric. Despite the rainy humidity of the outside world, once inside, wet shoes be damned, everyone just vibed. All three floors of Terminal 5 were packed wall to wall and yet not a single fight or scuffle broke out. This rare occurrence of instant crowd camaraderie was because everyone knew they were about to be a part of something special. Whether you won your tickets by submitting a playlist on Tidal or bought your way in, everyone in the spot knew they pulled the right finesse to be a part of the moment.
As promised, HOV delivered a set full of decade-spanning B-side cuts to appease his audience of diehards. Strolling on stage promptly at 9 p.m., he was welcomed by burning blunts and chants of “HO-VA” almost instantly. Jay started off strong with “Intro” from 2000′s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia and the front row rapped every word right along with him.
After taking to Twitter a few weeks ago to defend Tidal, Jay also took this opportunity to deliver a one-two punch to his business critics in the form of a monologue and brand new freestyle.
“Don’t go with the flow, be the flow,” HOVA said to cheers. Going on to reference the early pioneering moments in his career, he explained, “When The Source was the number one magazine out here…I was the first one on the cover of XXL.”
As for his a capella freestyle? Carter used recent social events like the death of Freddie Gray as an example of oppression. “You know what I’m worth? I ain’t ya slave right? You know I ain’t shuckin’ and jivin’ and hi-fivin’/You know this ain’t back in the days, right? Well I can’t tell the way they killed Freddie Gray, right?/Shot down Mike Brown, how they did Tray, right?/Let ’em continue choking niggas We gonna turn style (turnstile), I ain’t ya token nigga.”
He used this freestyle as a set up for “Politics as Usual” and continued running through Reasonable Doubt classics. The warmed up crowd really got bouncing when Jay performed “Jigga My Nigga” and “22 Two’s” and once the special guests came out, nostalgic joy went into overload. Jay brought out Roc Nation signee Jay Electronica for “Young Black and Gifted,” wilded out with Young Jeezy for “Go Crazy” and reunited the Roc-A-Fella squad, bringing on Just Blaze, Freeway, Memphis Bleek and his estranged friend Beanie Sigel. The moments onstage between Beans and HOV were especially touching with the Philly MC sharing his appreciation post-show.
As Jay rattled off “Dead Presidents I,” he thanked New York and exited stage left, he was immediately met with the need for an encore. “You guys gave me a gift tonight. I’ve been wanting to play these songs for so long,” said Carter when he came back out.
After a couple more songs he paid tribute to the late, great blues musician BB King, Jay wrapped up with “Public Service Announcement.” As a mob people joined him on stage, HOV jumped down onto the crowd’s level.
Former XXL freshman and Chicago rapper Vic Mensa made his first appearance on stage as Roc Nation’s newest signee and discussed the surrealism of the honor. “This entire experience is something that will only happen twice, tonight and tomorrow night,” said Vic. “So, me being on the stage is legendary…everything that’s happening is legendary. Magnitude.” As the night came to an end and the crowd filed back out into the rain slicked streets of midtown, the performers posted backstage pics that quickly went viral.
With shots fired to YouTube and Spotify and a hip-hop reunion of legendary proportions, Jay Z created a moment in hip-hop history. Can’t compete with the R-O-C.
Watch the concert in full below.