MTV Video Music Awards
Jay-Z Kicks Off Detroit Stadium Shows with Eminem
"Ooooooh, shit!" the rapper declared early in the set, ordering the full array of stage lights turned on so he could gaze at the crowd of 42,000 at Detroit's Comerica Park and "take this in. Ladies and gentleman, this is hip-hop music and this is how far we've come. We're rockin' stadiums!"
It's a motif the New York visitor returned to often, as he did his part to get the stadium shows off on a good foot with an energetic, aggressive and loud 80-plus minutes, during which he and his band throwed through more than 30 songs -- all without making the set feel crammed or rushed. Dressed all in black (of course) and sporting sunglasses (of course), Jay-Z came out swinging hard with an opening salvo of "Dynasty," "Run This Town," "Free Mason," "On to the Next One" and "D.O.A.," prowling the front of the centerfield stage as a large oval screen mixed live close-ups with video images.
Perhaps deferring to the hometown headliner -- though he never mentioned Eminem by name during his set -- Jay-Z went light on guests in Detroit but did bring out Jeezy for a four-song mini-set, while Memphis Bleek joined in as hype man for two-thirds of the show, starting with "Take Over" and "You Don't Know," and had the crowd twirling T-shirts during "Big Pimpin'."
Jay-Z also offered a shout out to late rappers 2Pac, Pimp C, Eazy-E, Guru and Jam Master Jay as well as Aaliyah, and he won some local favor when he asked the crowd to "make the most noise you've made all night" for Eminem's mentor, Proof. He also paid tribute to the Notorious B.I.G. with snippets of "One More Chance" and "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems" and refrenced Detroit's hard economic times during "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)," promising that "Detroit has heart, it will be back."
Jay-Z closed the set sprinting through favorites such as "Jigga," "Izzo," "Guess Who's Back," "Already Home" and "Empire State of Mind," telling Detroiters," I appreciate you singing 'New York' in Tiger Stadium. I know that's tough for y'all." He also pronounced it "one of the best experiences of my entire life" before ending with "Encore," though the crowd was understandably reserving its judgment on the matter until Eminem's set.
B.o.B., added to the bill on Tuesday, opened the evening with a tight and energetic half-hour that focused mostly on "B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray" but also included obscurities such as "I See Ya" and "Satellite." The Home And Home Tour continues with a second show Friday at Comerica Park before moving to Yankee Stadium in New York on Sept. 13-14.