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SECOND BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST TWELVE MONTHS

Jay-Z at Billboardlive

Whatever alternate moniker he's going by at the moment -- Hova, Jiggaman, or simply Shawn Carter -- New York City's Jay-Z remains one of hip-hop's most talented rappers. And while his paeans to all that glitters (preferably if it's wrapped around somebodythat glitters) aren't going to win too many fans from the backpacker contingent, even Jay-Z's harshest critics have had to grudgingly concede that his lyrics, misogynist bile and all, are some of the most head-scratchingly inventive around. But who knew the man was also a bona fide entertainer? At his Billboardlive gig this past September, Jay-Z rolled out much more than simply a greatest-hits revue. Where most rap concerts these days consist of little more than an emcee hollering into his mike, trying to avoid tripping over the half-dozen members of his posse also stumbling around the stage, Jay-Z put on a genuine show. He worked the room, flipped his music's dynamics, and kept the audience rooted to his every gesture (even having them mimic his guttural grunts in unison) for his set's entire 90-minute duration. Minus his "Cristal break," of course.

 
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