Proceeds from both concerts benefit the United Way of New York City and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation of which his mother, Gloria Carter, is president and CEO. Ticket prices ranged from approximately $300 – $1000. Jay-Z first announced the concert series in December of last year.
Beginning the evening in a white Tom Ford dinner jacket and diamond Cartier pin sparkling on his lapel, he changed the line of one of his most recited rhymes, “Public Service Announcement,” in honor of the occasion, replacing “hat” with “tux”:
“Check out my tux, yo/Peep the way I wear it,” he rhymed as the well-heeled crowd adorned in tuxedos and strapless gowns nodded along to the music of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra — conducted by Jeri Lynne Johnson — which served as Jay-Z’s house band, along with the Illadelphonics, an ensemble featuring Questlove of the Roots and soul singer Bilal, reports the Times.
Hova went through his greatest commercial hits, such as “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” and “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” to the Rick Rubin produced “99 Problems,” laying to rest the speculation that he had given up the “b-word” in honor of his daughter with wife and former Destiny Child front-woman, Beyonce Knowles.
Jay-Z gave his daughter a shout-out during the evening’s festivities, “Put one hand in the air for Blue! If there are any proud parents in the house tonight, make some noise for me,” while performing “Glory,” his emotional tribute to baby girl Blue Ivy Carter:
“I didn’t think I was gonna make it through that one,” he said at the song’s conclusion.
Alicia Keys joined Jay-Z to perform their NYC anthem, “Empire State of Mind,” which came after an interlude during which the orchestra and band played Gil Scott-Heron’s “New York Is Killing Me.”
Former arch-nemesis, Nas, joined him on stage to perform “N.Y. State of Mind.” Jay-Z let his guest shine alone on “If I Ruled the World,” accompanied by Keys.
Even with all of the pomp and circumstance, Hova kept it so BK. After changing into a black T-shirt and gold chain, he paid homage to his fallen friend, Brooklyn rapper Notorious B.I.G. by performing the ’90’s hit, “Gettin’ Money .” He then segued into a medley of classics from his 1996 debut album, Reasonable Doubt, making good on the promise he made the crowd early in the evening:
“All those lines that divide us,” he said with confidence, “we gonna step on them.”
Hip-Hop pioneers, Afrika Bambaataa and MC Melly Mel were the first Hip-Hop duo to play Carnegie Hall in 1985. Wyclef Jean performed there in 2004, Mos Def in 2008.