“Big Pimpin’” in Carnegie Hall: It happened Monday night when Jay-Z rocked the iconic New York City venue, bringing more than 2,000 fans to their feet for the first of two charity shows to benefit his Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation and the United Way.
“All those lines that divide us, we gonna step on them,” Jay-Z declared to the packed house at the start of his hour and a half long set. In fact, he stomped on them, climbing up to the balcony level at the conclusion of the show to rap from the box seats. He did more than dozen of his most popular hits, including “99 Problems,” “Forever Young,” “H to the Izzo,” and “Empire State of Mind.” And for the first time, he performed his ode to his new daughter Blue Ivy, “Glory.” “I ain’t think I was gonna make it through that one,” he said afterwards. “That was tough.” Much to the chagrin of Jay and Bey fans, his wife Beyonce did not make an appearance on stage. (She did, however, reveal her amazing post pregnancy body on the red carpet).
But there were other special guests — Nas, the rapper with whom Jay-Z once had a feud, and Alicia Keys, who belted out “Empire State of Mind” with Jay-Z and “If I Ruled the World” with Nas. And there was the backing orchestra of more than 30 musicians, including Questlove of The Roots.
The well dressed, well heeled crowd (sites like Gilt City have been premium seats for $5,500; on Craigslist, tickets are going for $350 and up) stayed standing for much of the show, a rarity for a place that rose to fame housing the New York Philharmonic. As the smell of marijuana wafted through the hall, Jay-Z summed up the meeting of hip-hop culture with “high society” by giving a special shout out to Liza Minnelli, who cheered for the rapper alongside his younger, die hard fans.