The Blueprint 3 Tour
featuring Jay-Z, Young Jeezy and Trey Songz
In “My First Song,” hip-hop megastar Jay-Z starts off the track with two simple questions: “Y’all wanna know why he don’t stop? Y’all wanna know why he don’t flop?” I obviously related the lyrics to the artist himself: Jay-Z has yet to stop, and he has yet to flop. I’ve been an enormous H.O.V.A. fan ever since he first taught me about big pimpin’ in fifth grade. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest rappers of all time, already sitting upon a throne in the upper echelon of hip-hop royalty. But not until March 19, 2010—when the Blueprint 3 Tour arrived in St. Louis—did I truly appreciate the magic that is Jay-Z.
I’ve attended plenty of rap concerts, witnessing some emerging talents (from Kid Cudi to The Cool Kids) and some international superstars (from T.I. to Lil Wayne). But never has a hip-hop artist put on a show like I experienced at the Scottrade Center a few nights ago. Every single one of my senses transformed into a state of pure musical ecstasy. The relentless thumping of the bass streaking through the cement floors reached my feet all the way at the top of the arena. The sight of dazzling lights and video screens illuminated the entire crowd. And the sounds of lyrical brilliance over thunderous instrumentals consumed my ears. On March 19, Jay-Z brought music to another level, and thousands of adoring fans loved every second of it.
The concert kicked off with Trey Songz, a tremendous singer breaking into the upper ranks of R&B music. He set an incredible tone for the night, starting off with his first hit, “Can’t Help But Wait.” For the next 30 minutes, Songz performed so terrifically that I couldn’t believe he was only the first of three acts. He revved up the crowd with “Neighbors Know My Name,” “Successful” and “Invented Sex.” But it was his last track that crowned his performance. Trey called up a woman from the crowd, asked her to open her mouth and “say ahhhhh.” I think you know where this is going. He went on to pour champagne in her mouth, lick up the splash on her neck and perform his current smash hit, “Say Ahh.” The stage was set, literally and figuratively, for the thus-far incredible show to continue. But an interesting twist happened first.
After a short intermission, the crowd was impatiently waiting for the entrance of Young Jeezy, the second opener. As the clocks on the huge screens struck zero, tens of thousands of fans screamed in unison. But oddly, the next face we saw was not Jeezy’s. There, standing on the stage, was the one and only Jay-Z.
I was shocked at first. I had to assume that Young Jeezy was sick, too hoarse to perform or simply late for his set. But once the bass dropped for “Run This Town,” and Jay-Z raised the microphone to his chin, all worries went away. The beat for “On to the Next One” soon stormed through the speakers, and the crowd went insane. Never has any song at any concert brought me to dance so wildly. I was bumping so hard on the ground and against my friends next to me that I almost felt self-conscious for just a second. I then looked down at the crowd below me and saw that thousands of strangers were pulsating the same way. But after a couple songs, just when Jay-Z was really getting into the show, a surprise came out from backstage. Young Jeezy entered the room.
I was confused, wondering why Jeezy would come in the middle of Jay-Z’s set. While Young Jeezy put on a good show, he was clearly the worst of the three acts. Nevertheless, he successfully energized the crowd with his hits “Put On” and “Go Getta,” and he was definitely at his best for “My President.” Everyone in the arena belted out the chorus all together. After Jeezy’s set, Jay-Z came back to the fore. The rest was history.
Jay-Z has created so many hits that it seems unfair that he had to exclude some from his set. But what he performed was simply mind-blowing. H.O.V.A. electrified the crowd with all the recognizable radio sensations. The entire crowd tidied up all the dirty sleeves while jamming to “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” We all shared our life issues to “99 Problems.” The backdrop transformed into downtown New York as Jay-Z whipped the crowd into a frenzy with “Empire State of Mind.” Just to mention a few others, “I Just Wanna Love U,” “Hard Knock Life,” “Big Pimpin’” and “Thank You” highlighted the set. Perhaps the feature of the show that I most appreciated as a true Jay-Z fan was his a cappella tangents. A few times after rapping a song with the instrumental, Jay-Z would finish the track with just his voice and the microphone. The only background music was the mass of fans’ screams. For those few instances, Jay-Z was not just a rapper; he was a poet. Very few, if anyone else, in the rap game can pull off such an intense and satisfying musical experience.
To finish the concert, Jay-Z had an intimate conversation with the crowd. He thanked everyone in attendance, calling out individuals far into the stadium. He even signed an album that a distant fan never stopped waving in the air. Jay-Z truly showed his appreciation for the audience, and we returned the love. His last song, “Encore,” was all too fitting, as he asked us all, “Do you want more?” Never have I heard an arena erupt into such deafening noise. We all begged for a second, third and fourth encore. Let’s all hope that Jay-Z continues to bring the same genius and passion to the rap game that hasn’t ceased since his debut 15 years ago. And to answer Jay-Z’s question, we will never stop wanting more.