As the skies cleared from the rainstorm and the sun set over the Bronx, the estimated 50,000+ fans who showed up for the Jay-Z and Eminem show at Yankee Stadium last night were looking for something great. They were looking for an only-in-New-York moment worthy of the time and the venue. And the two stars delivered.
After a holding-his-own opener by B.O.B., Eminem made his entrance to a Jumbotron word scroll announcing, "You are all witnesses to Eminem's RECOVERY." And whether that meant a recovery from his addictions to alcohol and pills, a recovery from a long hiatus from the spotlight, or simply that we were witnesses to Eminem performing material off his new album, he was back. He shook and sweated across the stage like a Revival preacher, flowing and spewing his expert brand of, for lack of a better word, enjambment. And though he seems to have left most of the drugs and violence behind him, he wasn't afraid to revisit old favorites like "The Real Slim Shady," "Bitch I'm Gonna Kill You," and "Purple Pills." For the latter he brought on his old side project D12, a reunion that garnered more confused stares than cheers. But his reunions with Dr. Dre and 50 Cent had everyone screaming, and set the stage for an all-star show bigger than anything Eminem and Jay-Z could have pulled off by themselves.
As Eminem closed with the swagger-inducing "Lose Yourself" and a fireworks show, the air in the stadium changed. Because as soon as he took his last bow, it was just a matter of time until the moment. The moment Jay-Z would take the stage and thousands of people would get to hear and feel "Empire State of Mind" in the middle of Yankee Stadium. But surprisingly, the HOV didn't milk that moment for all it was worth. Almost as soon as he took the stage he was joined by Kanye West, and played more of a sidekick while West performed hits like "The Good Life." Jay-Z was quick to relinquish his spotlight, bringing on everyone from Eminem to Drake to Chris Martin of Coldplay, who giddily jigged across the stage when Jay-Z let him sing a verse from "Viva La Vida."
Jay-Z spent the night actively trying to make the show unforgettable. He dueted with wife Beyonce on "Forever Young," and freestyled while Chris Martin played "Clocks" on the piano. And though he could have had an epic, once-in-a-lifetime (or twice, since there's another show tonight) ending with "Empire State of Mind," he chose to perform the anthem three or four songs before his finale, instead going out on a medley of hits like "Izzo," "Jigga My Nigga" and "I Just Wanna Love U." But New York's favorite son could do no wrong, and the crowd bounced their hands in the air to deafening chants of "HOVA." As Jay-Z put it, "I'm going to tell tomorrow night's crowd they got their work cut out for them." Eminem and Jay-Z will have just as tough of a time topping anything they did last night. For a taste of what went down, check out the video below: