Em might’ve been away from the stage for a minute, but he still knows how to keep a show moving. During a D12 mini-set, the boy-band parody at the end of “My Band” gives us the first ironic display of fireworks I’ve ever seen. The show moves fluidly from crack-ups to ballads to anthems, leaving room for superstar guests: Drake emerges to general chaos for “Forever.” And when the night ends with “Lose Yourself,” the stadium barely feels big enough to contain the song.

And then there’s the one brilliantly shocking moment. Em starts “My Name Is,” but the song stops dead at the first mention of Dr. Dre’s name. Em starts screaming: “Oh, no! Oh, shit!” Dre’s name flashes huge on the screen behind him, the intro to “The Next Episode” plays, and Em’s now-reclusive mentor enters via elevator, getting the biggest disbelieving crowd-roar I’ve ever heard. Dr. Dre is only onstage for a few minutes, doing a couple of songs and looking like he can’t wait to leave. As he tries to depart, Em forces him to stand there while the crowd chants “Detox” at him. “I’m coming,” says Dre, unconvincingly. It’s a shaky, uncomfortable appearance, but a great moment nonetheless. (For his part, Jay holds himself to one guest, Jeezy, but he’ll presumably host a ton more when the show comes to Yankee Stadium.)

Eminem isn’t an ambassador for his city the way Jay is. Jay has “Empire State of Mind,” a song that’ll make him synonymous with his hometown forever. The closest thing Em has is “Welcome to Detroit City,” a song he produced for terrifying Detroit D-lister Trick Trick, less a song about how Detroit is a great place and more a song about how you’ll fucking die if you fuck with Trick Trick in Detroit. But at home in his destroyed city, performing in front of a bandstand made out of crushed cars, Em feels like a symbol for, well, recovery. He’s a destroyed man who put himself back together. Even if his music doesn’t have the kick it once did, that rebuilding means something in a once-great city that tore itself apart years ago. When Em brings this show to New York, that story might not mean as much. But it’ll still be a great show.

Kevin Mazur

Jay-Z and Eminem play Yankee Stadium September 13 and 14

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