Chief roca

Jay-Z at Mohegan Sun, July 10, 2009
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  July 16, 2009


VIDEO: Jay-Z live at Mohegan Sun

For imposter pimps in top hats, frighteningly dumb suburban barbarians, and hypocritical hip-hop frauds like me, Jay-Z's Mohegan Sun show this past Friday was a gala shindig complete with pre-and-after-party gambling and boozing. Chief Big Bucks from Mohegan isn't dumb; not since Sinatra has an artist been so capable of pitching material fantasies to fools willing to wager their entire paychecks on black.

Unfortunately, I wasn't balling. I rode down on the Greyhound, which took nearly four hours despite there being no traffic. Think about that; I whipped public transportation to sing along to such Jay-Z lines as "we don't lease — we buy the whole car, as you should," and "to hell with the price 'cause the money ain't a thing." Then again, this is also the MC who once declared that he "has no patience," and "hates waiting." That's something I can relate to while smelling toilet water on a charter vehicle.

As usual, I suspended my resentment toward Jay's superficiality as soon as he emerged. Dude gets louder and clearer every time I see him live, and this hour-and-a-half spectacle might have been his boldest yet. His band was stupid tight; the light show glowed without over-aggression, and there were few tracks I wanted that he didn't at least drop into his marathon encore medley.

At roughly 10,000 seats — about half the size of TD BankNorth Graden — the Mohegan arena is a cherry venue for a concert of this magnitude (no — they didn't put me up for the night). The place has the acoustic and technological amenities of an indoor stadium, but oodles more intimacy, and Hova used the relatively small room to his advantage.

After gunning through his catalogue — from "Death of Autotune (D.O.A.)" and "Roc Boys" to such Jacko jacks as the Kanye-produced "Izzo" and smokin' oldies like "Can I Live" and "Jigga My Nigga" — Jay shouted out fans for about 20 minutes. "Hey you — the big man in the Yankees hat — I see you," he said to my friend Rico, who blushed as if Stacey Dash had pinched his nipples.

Because of my delayed bus ride down, I missed Lupe Fiasco and Fabolous, and that was just fine. I came to see the guy who "doesn't rap anymore" and who instead "runs the map," the cat who "is part of the reason that the president is black" and who shushed the crowd in seconds for a Michael Jackson moment of silence. No other performer has enough panache, skill, and classic content to outweigh the truly vapid junk he pumps on radio or is capable of inspiring me to burn my rent money at the craps table.

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