The House That Hova Built

Five observations on Jay-Z’s opening of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Five observations on Jay-Z’s opening of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Walik Goshorn / Retna Ltd. | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

1 – Jay-Z doesn’t like to share

For the opening of the Nets new arena, Brooklyn’s favorite son was expected to pull out all the stops. After all, he grew up in the projects just fifteen minutes away, and is now a part owner of both the team, and the place where they play (even if that “part” that he owns is tiny.) So the 18,000 fans filing in last Friday could be forgiven for anticipating a slew of celebrity guests. Would Jay’s recent touring mate Kanye West show up to duet on “Ni**as in Paris”? Would Rihanna belt “Run this Town”? Surely fellow New Yorker Alicia Keys would take the stage for “Empire State of Mind”. And at the very least Mrs. Hov herself, Beyonce, would join her husband on “’03 Bonnie and Clyde”. Right? Wrong. The night, and frankly the entire eight show run, is all about Jigga, who apparently didn’t want anyone else to steal his spotlight. Of course, it’s Jay-Z, so he can get away with it.

2 – Big Daddy Kane is really fucking cool

The one guest who graced the stage was Jay’s former mentor, Brooklyn hip-hop hero Big Daddy Kane, who turned up for three songs with his backup dancers, Scoob and Scrap, during the encore. And frankly, Kane is just the coolest.

3 – Beer…they need more of it

The concessions at Barclay’s skew towards Brooklyn’s recent turn towards hipster-locavore, with offerings such as lobster rolls, cheesecake, brisket and gourmet pickles. And while the staff was incredibly friendly (especially given that it was opening night) they did run out of beer at several of the concession stands. That should never be allowed to happen.

4 – Biggie is still King

One of the night’s best moments was when Jay paid tribute to his fallen pal Notorious B.I.G, before leading the crowd through “Juicy.” The fact that all 18,000 fans seemed to know every word to Biggie’s anthem to growing up in Brooklyn proves that the legend is far from forgotten.

5 – This is going to be a great place to watch basketball

Maybe the place has a smaller footprint than venues with similar capacities, but Baclays Center feels strangely, awesomely intimate. There’s an old-school Terrordome-vibe giving the arena a claustrophobic verticality. This is a good thing, and will make for a terrific place to root on Deron Williams and company once the Nets take ownership. It’s not as if Madison Square Garden is going to relinquish its title as “The World’s Most Famous Arena”, but the house that Hova built is pretty damn great.

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