The Black Album Turns 20

October 27, 2005. East Rutherford, New Jersey. The building then known as the American Airlines Arena. My first Jay-Z show. (I was pretty late. Can’t believe I didn’t see the Hard Knock Life tour.) It was deep into Jay’s fake retirement — two years after The Black Album, the fake-goodbye record that turns 20 today. In his fake retirement, Jay didn’t really stop doing anything — he didn’t even stop touring — but this was billed as a special evening. Jay had some things that he wanted to get off his chest. No opening act that night. Instead, the lights came up on a mocked-up Oval Office, with a presidential seal of the floor and Jay sitting behind a massive oak desk. While the crowd was still reacting to what it was seeing, six piano notes ran out — the “PSA” intro. When the drums kicked in, giant jets of flame shot up from the floor. To this day, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.


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