Jay-Z helped kick off the Nike World Basketball Festival last night (Aug. 12) at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. For 30-minutes, the Brooklyn rapper ripped through both new and old tunes, including "Diamonds Are Forever," "Run This Town," "Hovi Baby" and "Can I Live."
"I'm only here for 20 minutes so I can't wait for you to warm up," Jay-Z, dressed in all black and backed by a full band, declared shortly after breaking into the opening number "Hovi Baby."
"Ain't no living person can test him, Only two resting in heaven/ Can be mentioned in the same breath as him/ Seven straight summers ... " Jay then paused, excused and corrected himself, "Eleven straight summers, critics might not admit it/ But nobody in rap did it quite like I did it," he finished.
"Run This Town" came next, sans Rihanna and Kanye West, who were both hosting their own events in the Big Apple the same night. "If ya'll came to have a good time tonight, I need everyone from the front all the way to the back, everybody, sing," Jay-Z asked the crowd in their absence, as they obediently jumped in for Rihanna's chants.
Then the piano to "Diamonds From Sierra Leone" dropped, as Jay rhymed his famous line, "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man, so let me handle my business, damn."
"There's a lot of kids here, I'm trying to keep it friendly," Jay told the crowd, before telling the kids to put on their ear plugs as the guitar licks from "99 Problems" blasted throughout the speakers.
In the end, Jay-Z performed "Dead Presidents II" and "Can I Live" from his debut album, "Reasonable Doubt," and then more current hits, like "Already Home" and the ever-appropriate "Empire State of Mind."