When Jay Z does “Somewhere in America,” it’s easy for many to miss the point because of the punchline.
One of the craftiest songs from his “Magna Carta … Holy Grail” album, “Somewhere” is about how hip-hop has become part of every part of American culture, spread so far and embedded so deep that “somewhere in America, Miley Cyrus is twerking.”
That idea is even more evident at a Jay Z concert. His sold-out show at Nassau Coliseum Sunday night was packed with fans of all ages and all races. And new generations continue to discover him, as Jay’s conversation with 10-year-old Zack, accompanied by his parents for his first concert, proved. The boy, his brown hair cut into a preppy cut, made an impression on the rapper, who declared later on the stage, “Never give up on your dreams, Zack.”
When Jay returns for his encores -- fittingly starting with “Encore,” which has become his “favorite part of the show,” because it’s when he interacts with the audience -- his all-hits finale is as strong as any classic rocker. “Empire State of Mind” shows he can write as mainstream an anthem as anyone, while “Izzo (H.O.V.A.) shows how he can turn his own specific experiences into a hit with broad appeal.
But it’s the mix of “Hard Knock Life,” which incorporates the “Annie” theme into hard-hitting hip-hop, and “Young Forever,” as soaring and inspirational as any of his songs, that captures his move from promising Brooklyn rapper to international superstar.
SETLIST: U Don't Know / Crown / On to the Next One / Holy Grail / ---withmeyouknowigotit / Beach Is Better / 99 Problems / Picasso Baby / Can I Live / No Church in the Wild / Somewhere in America / Big Pimpin' / Timbaland interlude / Can I Get A… / Jigga What, Jigga Who / Dirt Off Your Shoulder / I Just Wanna Love U / In Paris / Tom Ford / PSA / Clique / Run This Town // ENCORES: Encore / Who Gon Stop Me / Empire State of Mind / Izzo (H.O.V.A.) / Hard Knock Life / Young Forever