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Jay-Z Celebrates Brooklyn in 1st Concert at New York’s Barclays Center

Jay-Z
Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images

Jay-Z returned to the borough that raised him for the first of his eight-night concert residency on Friday (Sept. 28) at Brooklyn’s new basketball stadium. The rap king was at center court of the newly-opened Barclays Center as he toasted BK and his devoted fans.

Dressed in all-black with a bubble-goose vest, Jay-Z wore a Brooklyn Nets jersey with the No. 4 on it (which represents his and wife Beyonce‘s favorite number), as he entered the stage in front of 20,000 fans chanting his name. “Tonight is a celebration, a celebration of where I’m from,” Hov told the audience before he kicked off his set with the hometown anthem ‘Where I’m From’ from his 1997 album, ‘In My Lifetime, Vol. 1.’

According to MTV, Jay performed several tracks that pay homage to his Brooklyn roots including ‘Brooklyn We Go Hard’ followed by a tribute to the late Notorious B.I.G. with ‘Kick in the Door’ and ‘Juicy.’ After removing his bubble-goose vest, Jay got down to business and ran through some of his classic hits like ‘Run This Town,’ ‘On to the Next One,’ ’99 Problems’ and ‘Empire State of Mind.’

Midway through the show, Jay rapped a new verse about his Brooklyn Nets franchise, rapping, “Shooters on my team / No really, I got shooters on my team / Juan or Deron / How you n—as want it, pick [an] arm / They call me Lucky Lefty / Ball so hard I don’t respect the f—in’ referees.”

Hov also dipped into his old catalog performing ’90s-era joints like ‘Dead Presidents,’ ‘Can I Live’ and ‘Marcyville,’ which is a vintage underground song that only die-hard Jay-Z fans would know.

After an hour into his set, Jigga teased the crowd into thinking the show was over with his swan song ‘Encore,’ but he had more tricks up his sleeves. “I’m really overwhelmed with the moment, nothing feels like it feels tonight to be in Brooklyn, New York City,” he said.

Although Jay told the media that he wouldn’t have any guests at his concerts, he surprised audiences near the end of his show with rap icon and Brooklyn native Big Daddy Kane. It was Kane who gave Jay-Z his big break onstage in the early ’90s when he was his hype man, and now he’s returning the favor. “Big Daddy Kane was before me, before B.I.G.; we gotta understand our history,” Jay exhorted. While Jay took a brief break, he allowed Kane to perform his classic tunes ‘Ain’t No Half Steppin,’ ‘Set It Off’ and ‘Warm It Up Kane’ for the receptive crowd.

Afterward, Hov came back to spit verses from his current street bangers ‘Clique’ (from the G.O.O.D. Music album ‘Cruel Summer’) and ’3 Kings,’ his joint with Rick Ross and Dr. Dre.

Jay-Z closed the show with the reflective song ‘Young Forever,’ as he told concertgoers that he’s living proof of the “American Dream” and that if they apply themselves, they can achieve it, too. “I ain’t no motherf—in’ different from anybody here tonight,” he yelled, “and I’m standing on this stage.”

On this historic night, Jay-Z proved that black excellence is attainable. Welcome home, Brooklyn’s own.

Check Out Photos From Jay-Z's Opening Night at the Barclays Center

Watch Jay-Z Perform ‘Where I’m From’ at the Barclays Center

Watch Jay-Z Perform ‘Brooklyn Go Hard’ at the Barclays Center

Watch Jay-Z Perform ‘Run This Town’ at the Barclays Center

Watch Jay-Z Spit a New Verse at the Barclays Center

Watch Jay-Z Perform ‘On to the Next One’ at the Barclays Center

Watch Jay-Z Perform ‘Encore’ at the Barclays Center

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