Heart of the City tour: Mary J. and Jay-Z
Hip-hop royalty was on tap as Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige's 2008 Heart of the City tour courted the 13,000 or so fans on hand at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Friday, April 25. The two opened the show together with their classic "Can't Knock the Hustle" from Jay's debut "Reasonable Doubt." Mary J. took over for the next hour+ by dropping one gem after the next, elevating the emotional power of each song as the set continued. By the time "No More Drama" came to a heart-wrenching finale, Mary had her fans wildly screaming for more. As she continued on -- constantly engaging the females in the audience with advice and comments from her own challenges -- it became clear that following the Quuen of Hip-Hop Soul was not going to be an easy task -- even for the "greatest of all time" Jay-Z -- to follow.
Hova took over with a focus on his 2007 "American Gangster" album, delivering "Say Hello" and "Roc Boys" before dropping a somewhat out-of-place rap verse from Beyonce's "Upgrade U." But all was good with Jay spitting in front of a full band, even with the somewhat cheesy "Show Me What You Got" from 2006's forgettable "Kingdom Come." As promised, Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella protege Memphis Bleek took it up a couple levels with two ferocious tracks, "U Don't Know" from the classic "Blueprint" and an interesting AC/DC mash-up on the Rick Rubin-produced "99 Problems" from the "Black Album."
Mary J. came back out and helped Jay-Z shut the show down with "Heart of the City" and "You're Welcome (Hands Up)" sending the crowd off on an undeniable high.