Jay Z at Toyota Center, 12/19/2013


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After a brief interlude that found Timbaland playing around with the crowd, feeding them a smattering of his greatest beats (most of them made for Missy Elliot; what the hell happened to her?), Hov returned to finish what he started in destroying the crowd. "Big Pimpin' Vol. 3," "Nigga What Nigga Who," "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It To Me)," "Niggas In Paris" -- not many stretches of songs could ever come close to matching that. Jay-Z is still relatively young and has more hits than groups that are twice his age. Just another reason he's king.

"Beyonce's playing Brooklyn, I'm playing Houston. How special is that?" Jay said as the familiar chords of "Empire State of Mind" filled the room to start the encore. "I've come and enjoyed a little of where you're from, so share with me where I'm from," he said before offering his first verse of the tune. "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" and "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" came next and served as the whipped cream and cherry on top of the hip-hop sundae we were all graciously sharing throughout the night.

As the lights dimmed, Jay asked the crowd to hold their lighters (cell phones) in the sky while he made his way through "Young Forever" to close out the night. It was a delightfully cheesy way to end the show; but cheesy in all the best ways possible. Though I personally like the remake of the classic Alphaville anthem, I'm not sure if it was the strongest way to go out for the rest of the crowd. Many people headed for the door before the song even finished, opting for a swift exit rather than sticking around until the bitter end.

Despite the questionable finish, the impression that Jay left in that room was above and beyond what I could've expected. It was my first Hova experience, and I was honestly blown away by what he fed us over the course of the evening.

He's the best in the game. By far.Thursday night proved that.

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Personal Bias: I've been a loyal listener for years. Ever since I first heard Vol. 2... A Hard Knock Life for the first time back in '98 or '99, I was hooked. Now, after seeing him live, I'm obsessed.

Overheard In the Crowd Shout-outs to several of Houston's finest athletes and rappers who were in the building that night. Paul Wall mingled with Andre Johnson while Bun B and Dwight Howard hammed it up. OK, I'm not 100 percent on if those conversations actually took place, but they were all there, so I want to believe they did.

The Crowd: A blend of Houston's finest hip-hop heads. Well, the ones who could afford the steep ticket prices, at least.

Random Notebook Dump: During the encore, while Jay was talking to different people in the crowd, one lucky fan had their Blueprint LP signed by the man himself. I really wish I was that person.


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Toyota Center

1510 Polk, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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