NEW YORK — Thanos isn’t the only one the Avengers are beefing with this weekend.
While “Avengers: Endgame” was smashing box-office records, Jay-Z was igniting an imaginary feud with the Marvel superheroes at New York’s iconic Webster Hall, which reopened Friday after undergoing a year and a half of renovations.
“Thank you all for being here,” Jay-Z told the crowd midway through his “B-Sides 2” show, which spotlighted lesser-known tracks from his three-decade career. “This (expletive) means a lot to me. I know the ‘Avengers’ is playing in a theater down the block and all, but the Avengers aren’t even real.”
Jay-Z performs "B-Sides 2" at Webster Hall in New York Friday. (Photo: Theo Wargo, Getty Images for Roc Nation)
The 2,500-person-capacity-venue was easily the rapper’s most intimate concert in years, having played stadiums with wife Beyonce on their co-headlining On the Run II Tour last summer. A giant disco ball in the shape of his Roc-A-Fella Records logo hung from the ceiling of the ornate ballroom, whose sold-out crowd of twenty- and thirty-somethings spilled outside the doors into the bar area.
Even more so than his last “B-Sides” show at New York’s Terminal 5 in 2015, the set list was light on hits and special guests. With the exceptions of crowdpleasers “Lucifer,” “Where I’m From” and “Dear Summer,” the audience frequently nodded along when they didn’t know the lyrics, although that didn’t stop them from cheering and dancing throughout.
Rappers Jay-Z, left, and Nas performed "New York State of Mind" and other songs together Friday night. (Photo: Theo Wargo, Getty Images for Roc Nation)
Later in the show, he brought out Cam’ron to perform “Welcome to New York City,” and former foe Nas to do a run of four songs, including Nas’ “The World is Yours,” Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents” and their collaboration “Success.”
The most moving moment of the night came when Jay-Z diverted from his set list to perform a freestyle piece, paying tribute to late rapper/activist Nipsey Hussle, who was shot and killed in Los Angeles last month.
“Gentrify your own hood before these people do it / claim eminent domain and have your people move in,” Jay-Z rapped. “That’s a small glimpse into what Nipsey was doing / for anybody still confused as to what he was doing.”
Jay Z performed a new freestyle at the B-Sides show.
"Gentrify your own hood before these people do it.
Claim eminent domain and have your people move in.
That's a small glimpse into what Nipsey was doing.
For anybody still confused as to what he was doing."
– Jay Z pic.twitter.com/d20cEEYSD2
Tickets on the secondary market ran as high as $1,000 for the late-night event, which had a classy-yet-casual vibe. Jay-Z paired his blue tuxedo with a large chain and headband, and his eight-piece band was similarly suited up as they closed out the night with a smooth-jazz rendition of “The Blueprint 2” cut “Hovi Baby.”
Jay-Z was briefly featured in Beyonce’s Netflix concert film “Homecoming” earlier this month, along with their three kids. The couple released joint album “Everything is Love” last year, which came on the heels of his critically acclaimed “4:44” solo effort in 2017.
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