Last year’s Glastonbury controversy about Jay-Z headlining and the subsequent triumph of his set at the festival has been wheeled out at nearly every mention of this immiment Oxegen set. But Jay-Z was always the venerable hip-hopper, the only rapper alive born to do it. It, being able to headline festivals across the globe with ease.
With 11 albums under his belt, many of them revered rap albums, he has plenty of material to choose from, and tonight is a reminder that the Jigga man has the rap hits in spades. He doesn’t even play the whole song most of the time – he’s got too many key cuts – ‘Can I Get A’, The Doors’ sampling ‘ The Takeover’, ‘Jigga What, Jigga Who’, ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’, ‘Big Pimpin’ , ‘Girls Girls Girls’ ‘Public Service Announcement’ and a glut of recent hit singles ‘Empire State of Mind’, ‘Run This Town’, ‘On to the Next One’ , ‘DOA (Death of Autotune)’.
About 30 songs are crammed in over 100 minutes or so. Jay-Z live is the ultimate rap showman. He’s untouchable yet he’s with us all the way, right there thankful, grateful and supportive to the audience. Backed by a full band (the third best Jay-Z band – ‘give them a little them they’re working on it,’ he says) and Memphis Bleek, there are standout moments aplenty as the biggest crowd of the weekend show their diamonds to the stage. ’99 Problems’ is an early incendiary experience which segues into the Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’; ‘Heart of the City’ is respectably and suitably mixed in with U2’s ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’; the classic ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A)’ with its classic refrain “H to the izz-O…V to the izz-A…”; the Michael Jackson tribute, the Annie-sampling ‘Hard Knock Life’ singalong. Even, ‘Young Forever’ the tame cover that fizzles out The Blueprint III is a lighters-in-the-air moment where everyone sings along. His set is peppered with freestyles which are both exhilarating and clever, proving, if it were needed that his boasts of ‘best rapper alive’ is not without merits.
Jay-Z just has the common touch, the ability to make you feel like you know him even if you stand a few hundred metres away. He thanks the crowd for staying out in the pouring rain for the entire set, prompting a mass-singalong to Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’. Jay even picks out about 20 members of the crowd for special mention before launching into ‘Numb Encore’ to close up a blazing set. No Beyonce needed. Jigga owns Friday night all on his own.