Friday, October 28, 2005

Jay-Z's "I Declare War" Concert A Bloodbath Of Peacemongering

After a month of threatening to put grease-talkers in various choke holds, Reigning King Of Retired Rap Jay-Z's "I Declare War" concert last night in New Jersey was crammed with cameo appearances, and all kinds of lovey-dovey. MTV's Shaheem Reid enjoys a brief respite from his round-the-mothafuckin'-clock coverage of 50 Cent to translate a little "'hood speak," and to dub last night's show "another Jay-Z moment that you'll tell your grandkids about." Now, before we pause to scour our collective memory for a previous Jay-Hova milestone that might merit reminiscence thirty-odd years from now, or to take stock of a future in which our grandchildren have reason to give a shit about Jigga, let's talk about just how lovey-dovey the whole affair was.

On a stage set up to look like the Oval Office, Jay-Hova admitted that, despite earlier promises, he wouldn't be airing out any rivals on this particular evening. His was a touching message of unity:
"All that beef shit is done. We had our fun. Let's get this money." Truly, truly inspiring words from an artist clearly at peace with the world.

The Roc-A-Fella head began the set with "PSA," played a couple more songs, took a break for a costume change (is that what's hot in the streets these days???), and then opened the guest-spot floodgates. First there was some eight-year-old kid makin' cute while Jay played, ahem, "Memphis Bleek's" "Dear Summer." Jigga warned the tyke, "
Don't try to upstage me with none of that cute kid shit."

Then came
Teairra MarĂ­ and Ne-Yo. Then T.I., Young Jeezy, and Akon. Then Peedi Peedi, Freeway and Memphis Bleek (which is weird, 'cause why didn't Bleek come out for "Dear Summer"? HA! I slay myself!). Then Beanie Sigel. Then The Lox and Sauce Money. Then Jadakiss.... Getting the idea? Well, it's far from over.

So then Jay says, "
Let's go Esco." Since the air's been thick with talk of a Jay-Z collaboration with a certain Queensbridge juggernaut for months now, you'd pretty much hafta be that eight-year-old to not guess what was going to happen next. Lo and behold, out comes Nas. Now it's common knowledge that I love the shit out of Nas. And I've reluctantly given in to a tempered appreciation of Jay-Z's talents, albeit from a suspicious distance and through a bulletproof barrier of irony. But if you want my opinion, considering the combined skills of these formidable foes, their King Of New York rivalry resulted in one of the least fruitful high profile MC battles in hip-hop history. Be that as it may, the idea of them sharing a stage really is quite something.

The pair began with "Dead Presidents." Recall that this song, an early entry in Jay's catalog, prominently featured a sample from Nas's "The World Is Yours," about which Jay once quipped,
"Yeah I sampled your voice, you was usin' it wrong. You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song." Afterwards, Jigga relinquished the stage to Nas, who performed "New York State Of Mind" and "It Ain't Hard To Tell."

Then fucking Diddy waltzes out onto stage in a fur coat! With flutes of champagne! He and Nas performed the woefully misguided "Hate Me Now." As Nas finished off his mini-set, Diddy loafed around the faux-Oval Office, and quite possibly threw his Rolly in the sky and waved it side to side.

Finally Kanye West and LeBron James turned up, and the show concluded with the compulsory "We Are The World"-esque group-hug rendition of "Encore." Quite a night, indeed.

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