Jay-Z Opens Brooklyn

The first song I liked by Jay-Z was “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” in 1998. As an urchin who grew up with the Broadway soundtrack to Annie on cassette tape, it immediately became my personal theme song. I also remember when Hot 97 was playing The Takeover like a broken record to hype the Nas beef. There is no arguing with me over poorly sampling Jim Morrison.

I think every genre has its masters. Jay-Z came from one of the country’s most dangerous neighborhoods; grew from artist to executive, and still does his art. He’s married to Beyoncé, and is a father for the first time. He is such a great success story.

As a resident of Park Slope, it’s hard to warm up to Barclays Center.  On one hand, they eminent-domained friends of mine from their super cool apartment with a living room large enough to fit a vintage gold fabric L shape couch. And they’re trying to push Hank’s Saloon (a dear friend of underground music), out as well. And it’s looked like a gigantic rusty turd for longer than I’d like to remember.

On the other hand, Jay-Z, at the top of his career and life, just dumped a gazillion dollars for art within walking distance of my apartment. I’m psyched. He is one of the owners of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team constructed on land that was originally slated to be built for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

We took the subway 2 stops to the stadium because I wanted to live all the recent hype about the design and the oooh and the aaaahness of it all. I was completely impressed. The subway tunnel from the tracks to the outside has that new smell.

You exit out into the main entrance. There’s a nice wow factor to it all. The graphics are cool and the branding is ostentatious. The process of getting from the subway to our seats was neat and orderly. Everyone was excited and the staff was bright and friendly. We were two levels above the floor in the middle section facing the stage.

The stadium is beautiful. The sound is terrible. It was like listening to a gigantic system of McDonalds drive-through speaker boxes. I don’t know if it’s possible to get good sound into an 18,000 seat arena. But if it is, changes need to be made. The dj was spinning snippits of a lot of Biggie tunes and we were all singing along. Everyone at some point felt the massive loss of Biggie not being able to experience this.

We were all looking around, checking it out. This is the fifth show. Brand spankin new! The design is awe-inspiring. The vendor prices are mixed. We didn’t bother with food or drinks so we could take our cash to the merch table. We got commemorative t-shirts and I’m going to Mo’s this weekend to pick up the sold-out No Sleep Til Brooklyn shirts for my cousin and I.

Jay-Z walked on stage and the audience roared. Behind him were gigantic screens sideshowing photos of the story of Brooklyn. I ate it up with a spoon. Then he introduced Biggie’s mom in the front row and we all just lost it. The first song he sang was “Where I’m From”

The laser light show was the best I’ve ever seen. On to the Next One was my highlight and singing Empire State of Mind with eighteen thousand people was a trip.

We left as orderly as we came in. I didn’t see any misbehavior, or any of the list of fears my neighbors have about drunken party revelers milling about after midnight.

I do feel like this is the beginning of great entertainment right next to me.

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