JAY-Z x DC

I know I’ve been MIA for a minute, but I’ve been in his weird transitional phase. Figuring out this freelance hustle is not for the faint of heart. I’ve also learned that  you have to have a passion for whatever it is that you are doing especially if you are putting your time and creativity in the hands of others. Instantaneously, all of your (free) hard labor can be snatched up without rhyme or reason, and without that passion, you may feel defeated. Always remember why you started in the first place. I’m snatching my power back, one article at a time.

With that being said, I’ll be updating this space with older content that was previously posted on a now defunct website. Appreciate your patience, y’all.

JAY-Z x DC

 Photo via  @evanpierce on  Instagram

Photo via  @evanpierce on Instagram

So last night I had the opportunity to attend JAY-Z’s 4:44 Tour in Washington, DC. I bought the tickets on Tidal pre-sale during the summer, so the level of anticipation had been building for months.

Vic Mensa holds his own

 Autographed lyrics by Vic Mensa from my personal collection courtesy of Tidal

Autographed lyrics by Vic Mensa from my personal collection courtesy of Tidal

I would be remiss if I didn’t first mention the show’s opening act: Vic Mensa. While proverbially unseasoned by JAY-Z’s example, what Mensa was able to do was introduce himself to the elder statesmen of hip-hop fans: people that actually lived through all era’s of JAY-Z’s rhymes. DC hangs in the balance of the north and the south in an almost step-child-looking-for-acceptance sort of way, so when a kid from Chicago that isn’t Kanye West steps on stage, 9 times out of ten you’re gonna get ignored. Vic managed to hold his own with passion and enthusiasm. “The Autobiography” was actually one of the hip-hop offerings this year that I thought felt like a fully thought out project, as apposed to a bunch of singles thrown together.

JAY-Z in Washington, DC

Wrap around stages and large projection screens aside, the vibe immediately enveloped you and wrapped you up into the world of Hov. Transported out of DC, we were in Brooklyn for the night under the spell of the latest inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame: Sean Carter.

The Capital One Arena—which will always be the Verizon Center in my mind—wasn’t fully sold out (UPDATE: according to this article from Very Smart Brothas, it was in fact sold out) , but it captured the vibe of the moment: cathartic, unconventional, reminiscent and familiar. While Jay’s set wasn’t long enough for every track I might have personally wanted to see, we were treated to a synopsis of a discography that encompasses the highs and lows of any hip-hop fans musical upbringing. New tracks slang you back to the old ones so seamlessly that you were unsure what era each song came from if you weren’t paying attention. The transitions between each decade-bending classic reminded you of your own highly coveted playlist by the god J Hova himself. 

What I appreciated most about the show was that Jay was able to talk to the audience. He is clearly much more introspective now than ever as evidenced by two in depth interviews in particular: the Rap Radar podcast and his recent interview with NY Times. We caught glimpses of this last night when he told fans things like “til everybody’s free, nobody’s free”, “mental health is a real issue, I want y’all to always check on your people,” “all those tough times are just to clear you out so you can receive your blessings,” “put yourself with positive people that uplift you”; all so important and so crucial in these times we are all living through. #SuperFacts 

I will say that I am very glad that I went: I wasn’t sure at first what to expect (I tried to avoid any videos on my timelines), and I was pleasantly reminded that Jay has more hits than a rapper has punchlines. Thank you, Mr. Carter for taking my coins last night: it was an investment in my happiness journey. Also, shoutout the the chic in Section 105, Row T, Seat 6...she knew every lyric word for word!