Deep into his Nassau Coliseum show, Jay-Z called an audible.
"We're going into overtime here," he said, to roars of approval. Why not? Jay was having a grand time, bobbing and weaving between the well-crafted rap that built his reputation and the pop-leaning stuff that built his bank account. He was also clearly in awe of the hero's welcome he received, as many of his fans shouted along with him for two hours, word for well-chosen word.
"The Blueprint 3 Tour" is a state-of-the-art hip-hop concert, five-star proof that the genre can be just as electrifying live as any other. For some, the tour could go down as one of hip-hop's greatest. For Jay-Z, though, it's just another blueprint for success.
Though Jay is undeniably the center of attention, the support he receives isn't just from the 11-piece backing band - including his verbal sparring partner Memphis Bleek - but from the massive stage set and stylishly shot scenes from the crowd projected behind him.
The live band makes a huge difference, turning "99 Problems" into an aggressive metal guitar attack and giving "Public Service Announcement" a laid-back vibe with its loping bass line and dueling drummers. The horn section makes "Show Me What You Got" that much more special, while the additional musical firepower makes his current single "On to the Next One" even more intense. Even when opener Trey Songz picked up the Mary J. Blige part in "Heart of the City" or when Bridget Kelly came on to handle Alicia Keys' duties in "Empire State of Mind," it all remained impressive.
Of course, Jay also knows when to keep it simple, motioning for the band to stop during "Hater" because the crowd's shouting made the rant work better a cappella.
There is also a more grateful, almost spiritual side to the show now, as he takes time to look out into the crowd and thank them individually by describing who he sees. "I'm not jaded," said Jay, explaining how every show on the tour has been sold out. "I appreciate every single one of y'all."
The only downside of the show going into OT? "We ain't gonna make no money on this tour," joked Jay, referring to the costs of blowing past the building's 11 p.m. curfew. But he didn't seem to mind, explaining his respect for the crowd by singing a snippet of EMF: "You're unbelievable."