This was the show that all other hip-hop shows will be judged against, the night Jay-Z and Eminem christened Yankees Stadium as a concert venue, with the help of their A-list friends. The party music that started as party music in the Bronx is all grown up as a genre and this night established it as a cultural force that cannot be denied.
“We came here tonight to make this one of the most historic shows,” Jay-Z told the capacity crowd, as one of the evening’s most surprising guests, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, left the stage. “We did everything we could to make this happen for you.”
Eminem, currently in the midst of a resurgence with the chart-topping album “Recovery” and the No. 1 single “Love the Way You Lie,” has turned self-deprecating confessions and vindictiveness into multi-platinum records.
Jay-Z offers the flipside, aspirational boasts and the community-building that comes from leading by example and by flaunting success.
It’s fitting that night’s biggest moment, in a five-hour-plus extravaganza packed with them, was a combination of the two styles, with a dash of Kanye West’s unique musical experimentation.
The remix of West’s thrilling “Monster,” which featured Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj, took Eminem’s lacerating esteem issues and merged it with Jay-Z’s bigger-than-life delivery. The powerful industrial-dance-influenced backdrop and boundless energy on all the verses removed any doubt that hip-hop shows might not translate on a stadium-sized scale. The performance was overpowering.
Only a skilled performer like Jay-Z could keep that kind of momentum going.
“This is better than any Grammy I’ve ever received, better than any MTV award,” Jay-Z said, after an “Empire State of Mind” victory lap. “I think I might send all those back just so I can have another night like this.” (Well, he does get another shot at it tonight for the last night of the “Home and Home” tour.)
In addition to West and Coldplay’s Martin, Jay-Z also brought out wife Beyonce, newcomer Drake and his longtime collaborators Swizz Beatz and Memphis Bleek.
However, Jay also made sure to put the night in its historic context. “No way I’m coming up to Yankee Stadium without bringing up all our fallen soldiers,” he said, offering tributes to Tupac Shakur, Jam Master Jay, Aaliyah, Guru, and a two-song tribute to The Notorious B.I.G., which featured Jay leading the crowd in a shout-along to “Juicy.”
Eminem took the stage first, manically pacing as he spit out the venom of “Square Dance” and “Cleaning Out My Closet” in front of a full band and images of blood spatters and caution tape.
“It is an honor and a privilege to be sharing this stage with Jay-Z tonight,” Eminem said. “I’m honored to be on this stage in the Bronx, the birthplace of [expletive] hip-hop.”
Em’s quieter moments -- on B.o.B.’s “Airplanes” and his own “Stan” -- showed how he has twisted the form into something that soothes and shocks simultaneously.
The rocking moments of “Sing for the Moment” and “Toy Soldiers” showed how much Eminem has improved as a performer since his stint in rehab and self-imposed hiatus. He connects to the audience now, instead of simply skulking from one corner of the stage to the other, careful to calibrate his enthusiasm to the massiveness of his surroundings.
The star-studded double-header, set to return to Yankee Stadium tonight, turned into one of hip-hop’s biggest shows ever. Dr. Dre made a guest appearance, including a version of the classic “Nuthin’ But a G Thang,” with Eminem handling Snoop Dogg’s verses.
Em pal 50 Cent arrived to bring in “I Get Money” and his classic “In Da Club,” while Lloyd Banks delivered his hit “Beamer, Benz and Bentley.”
With that kind of firepower, Jay-Z and Eminem, who teamed up for “Renegade,” lived up to the promise of the Yankee Stadium show, doing for hip-hop what The Beatles show at Shea Stadium in 1965 did for rock and roll, making it impossible to question the music’s power again.
JAY-Z SETLIST: Dynasty/Intro / Run This Town (w/Kanye West) / Power (Remix) (w/Kanye West) / Monster (Remix) (w/Kanye West and Nicki Minaj) / Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ (w/Kanye West) / Good Life (w/Kanye West) / Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix) / On to the Next One (w/Swizz Beatz) / D.O.A. / Lucifer / Renegade (w/Eminem) / Takeover / U Don’t Know / 99 Problems / Jigga What, Jigga Who / Big Pimpin’ / Hard Knock Life / One More Chance / Juicy / A Dream / Public Service Announcement / Heart of the City (w/Chris Martin) / Most Kingz (w/Chris Martin) / Viva la Vida (w/Chris Martin) / Miss Me (w/Drake) / Light Up (w/Drake) / Forever Young (w/Beyonce) / Already Home / Empire State of Mind (w/Bridget Kelly) / Thank You / Jigga My ---- / Izzo / The City Is Mine / Where I’m From / Dirt Off Your Shoulder / I Just Wanna Love You / Encore
EMINEM SETLIST: Won’t Back Down / 3AM / Square Dance / W.T.P. / Kill You / No Love / So Bad / Cleanin’ Out My Closet / The Way I Am / Fight Music (w/D12) / Purple Pills (w/D12) / My Band (w/D12) / Airplanes Part 2 (w/B.o.B) / Stan / Sing For The Moment / Like Toy Soldiers / Forever / Patiently Waiting (w/50 Cent) / I Get Money (w/50 Cent) /
Beamer, Benz, Bentley (w/50 Cent and Lloyd Banks) / In Da Club (w/50 Cent) / Till I Collapse / Cinderella Man / Love The Way You Lie / My Name Is / Still D.R.E. (w/Dr. Dre) / Nuthin’ But A G Thang (w/Dr. Dre and 50 Cent / Crack A Bottle / Real Slim Shady / Without Me / Not Afraid // ENCORE: Lose Yourself
Shaky video, but decent sound. (Adult language warning, natch.)