By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
Em mightve 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 Ive 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 theres the one brilliantly shocking moment. Em starts My Name Is, but the song stops dead at the first mention of Dr. Dres name. Em starts screaming: Oh, no! Oh, shit! Dres name flashes huge on the screen behind him, the intro to The Next Episode plays, and Ems now-reclusive mentor enters via elevator, getting the biggest disbelieving crowd-roar Ive ever heard. Dr. Dre is only onstage for a few minutes, doing a couple of songs and looking like he cant wait to leave. As he tries to depart, Em forces him to stand there while the crowd chants Detox at him. Im coming, says Dre, unconvincingly. Its a shaky, uncomfortable appearance, but a great moment nonetheless. (For his part, Jay holds himself to one guest, Jeezy, but hell presumably host a ton more when the show comes to Yankee Stadium.)
Eminem isnt an ambassador for his city the way Jay is. Jay has Empire State of Mind, a song thatll 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 youll 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. Hes a destroyed man who put himself back together. Even if his music doesnt 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 itll still be a great show.
Jay-Z and Eminem play Yankee Stadium September 13 and 14