Jay-Z visited the Talking Stick Resort Arena November 3 on the fourth stop of his 4:44 Tour, and it served as a reminder to artists and fans alike that he is one of the greats.
The rapper/entrepreneur took the stage at 9:15, shielded by moving video screens. He kicked off the 90-minute show with “Kill Jay-Z,” from his 13th studio album, 4:44.
He continued with an array of tracks from his impressive catalog of albums, including fan-favorite “D’Evils,” which he rapped just as “Lucifer” was ending.
He was obviously pleased with his fans’ response, with the audience constantly yelling “Hova!” and throwing of the Roc Nation diamond.
“That first half was the best of the whole tour,” he said about the fan energy.
One of the highlights was his performance of “Big Pimpin’,” his 1999 hit single that featured UGK. He even rapped an a cappella version the late Pimp C’s verse.
It’s easy to forget just how many hit songs Jay-Z has. He could have easily performed just his chart-topping hits that everyone knew. Instead, he chose to include more introspective and slower songs to switch the tempo. One example was his performance of “4:44,” a response and apology to his wife, Beyoncé’s album Lemonade, on which she speaks of her husband’s infidelity.
“And if my children knew, I don’t even know what I would do/If they ain’t look at me the same/I would probably die with all the shame,” he rapped.
Jay-Z has been successful because of his ability to bridge the gap between making hit songs and making music that speaks on or gives a different perspective on various social issues.
Jay-Z even stopped the music for a few moments and took time to comment on social issues like the senseless murders of children across the country.
“That’s not a black and white issue,” he said. “That’s a human issue.”
(Jay-Z wasn’t the only one to take on politics. Support act, Vic Mensa, a signee to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, brought out poet and fellow Chicago native Malik Yusef who delivered a politically charged spoken word performance that tackled topics like President Trump’s Access Hollywood video and the NFL anthem controversy.)
Jay-Z ended his set with a tribute to former Valley resident/Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, who committed suicide earlier this year. Jay-Z and Linkin Park released a mashup EP from 2004, Collision Course.
He asked the fans to take out their phones to light up the arena for “Numb/Encore.” He walked off the stage at 10:45 p.m. as the crowd sang along to Bennington’s part of the song.
Jay-Z remains one of the few rappers who can carry an arena show despite being many years older than nearly all of his contemporaries.
He may have left the audience wanting a little bit more because there was no encore, but any Jay-Z fan or any hip-hop fan in general would have been left satisfied.
Jay-Z seemed satisfied. “I’m living my dreams tonight.”
Kill Jay Z
No Church in the Wild
(Jay-Z & Kanye West cover)
Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)
Run This Town
Beach Is Better
Jigga My N—a
Dirt Off Your Shoulder
On to the Next One
I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)
The Story of O.J.
N—-s in Paris
(Jay-Z & Kanye West cover)
Where I’m From
Empire State of Mind
Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)
Numb / Encore
(Jay-Z and Linkin Park cover) (Dedicated to Chester Bennington)
Photos by staff photographer Kimberly Carrillo