Jay-Z brings his 4:44 Tour to Charlotte
Between 5th and Trade Street, Uptown Charlotte was buzzing on Thursday night. What was going on you may ask? Arguably the best MC ever was in town to showcase music from his 13th studio album, 4:44. The light rail dropped the masses of fans off right at the front door of the arena. The doors didn’t open at their expected time, and people began crowding into the tight sidewalks around the Spectrum Center. They wrapped around and then double wrapped around the building, sliding in between the benches and trees outside the entrances. Security was earning their money managing the lines as the doors were an hour late opening.
The people came out to ride with Jay one more time, just like they have many times over the last 25 years of his career. The number one fashion statement being sported was the NY Yankees cap. I know I had mine on pulled down real low showing support to the Big City of Dreams. I was in good company on Thursday night for sure.
Once the doors did open, the smiles lit up on everyone’s face. Big smiles. It didn’t take much to move them from a state of frustration to a state of excitement to see the man himself. It’s been a long time since Jay-Z came out of the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, and he certainly is a man who took the things he learned there and turned himself into a billionaire mogul. Walking into the area and seeing the stage setup, it was evident that we were going to have an amazing show. Any time I see a stage in the round, I know we are going to get an up close and personal experience with the artist. Huge video screen angled downward from the ceiling on all sides of the stage and his musicians were positioned around the corners of the stage in their own pit area.
Vic Mensa kicked off the show with his bandmates They were positioned dead center of the stage, and Vic made his way around the sides to spit his lyrics to the crowd as they were filling in. Vic did an adequate job of warming the crowd up with his positive vibes, but the crowd wasn’t quite there yet. They were waiting on HOVA, and were slow to fill into the seats. Even still, the crowd showed Vic some love as he wrapped up his set.
As the night came to a close, Jay-Z had one shout out that caught me off guard, in a positive way. We have lost a lot of great musicians this year to natural causes and one more unfortunate cause, suicide. Jay threw some love out to Chester Bennington from Linkin Park. Jay and Linkin Park collaborated together back in 2004 on their Collision Course EP. Their efforts resulted in their version of “Numb/Encore” winning the award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2006 Grammy Awards. Jay closed out with this, and the crowd went crazy jumping in to help belt out Chester’s distinctive vocal parts. Much respect to Jay-Z for not forgetting his friends.
I am not usually the biggest fan of lights and stages, but I thought the creativity of the lights, the video screens, and the stage that transformed from a flat stage to the pyramid was ingenious. It gave the show a unique feel and gave some diversity to the angles for the performer. Kudos to the creative designers. They did an amazing job.
Jay-Z is one of the true greats in the rap game. Even as he is getting older and the game is changing to more auto tuned vocals and less real lyrics, his smooth style still has a flow that is relevant today. Whether spittin fast or slow, Jay never breaks a sweat. He never seems to be forcing it. It is just a natural pace that you can’t help but ride shotgun with and bounce with him. “Who do you know fresher than HOV, riddle me that?” There is still nobody, living anyway, that can rival Jay-Z as the Greatest.
Setlist 4:44 Tour Charlotte, NC The Spectrum Center
- Kill Jay Z
- No Church in the Wild
- (JAY Z & Kanye West cover)
- Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)
- Run This Town
- Beach Is Better
- Jigga My Nigga
- Izzo (H.O.V.A.)
- Dirt Off Your Shoulder
- I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
- Public Service Announcement
- Family Feud
- U Don’t Know
- 99 Problems
- Big Pimpin’
- The Story of O.J.
- Niggas in Paris
- (JAY Z & Kanye West cover)
- Where I’m From
- Empire State of Mind
- Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)
- Numb / Encore
- (Jay-Z and Linkin Park cover)