Jay-Z ‘s Historic Night at Carnegie Hall

“I always wanted to say this in Carnegie Hall,” Jay-Z said last night, midway through the second of his two charity shows this week at the hallowed New York institution. “Is Brooklyn in the house?”
The roar he received in response suggested that his home borough was well-represented among the finely attired patrons of the arts who had handed over as much as $15,000 to be there. All proceeds went to fight poverty via United Way of New York City and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation, organizations that help secure good educations for low-income students – kids like Shawn Carter once was back in Brooklyn.
But that was ages ago. More than any rapper before him, Jay-Z has become part of America’s cultural royalty in the past decade – hobnobbing with Oprah and Obama, publishing a book exploring his lyrics’ intricacies, and, oh yeah, selling out arenas whenever he feels like it. Headlining Carnegie Hall was just one more coronation moment in a career full of them.
Dressed to the nines in a tux and dark shades, he brought a thoroughly satisfying selection of old and new classics to life – nothing from his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt, or last year’s Kanye West collab, Watch the Throne, but the best of everything in between – with help from a 40-piece orchestra and the Illadelphonics, led by the Roots’ Questlove on drums. The set list was more or less the same carefully honed hit parade he’s delivered at Coachella, Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium and countless other venues in recent years. As always, he defined effortless charisma as he recited the well-known lyrics with a little extra energy on this special night. The audience, which included Chris Rock, Jay-Z’s mother Gloria Carter and other luminaries, was in the palm of his hand the entire time.

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