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Coachella 2010: Jay-Z runs this town

April 17, 2010 | 12:04 pm


As the first straight-up hip-hop headliner in Coachella's freewheeling, 11-year history, Jay-Z's set Friday night can be summed up in three words (with all due respect to Julius Caesar): veni vidi vici.

Young Jigga came, he saw and he conquered in the 11 p.m. time slot, performing for over an hour and serving up a veritable pupu platter of street bangers from across his hit-studded 15-year career and generally ripping his set as only a performer who has become the Great Black Hope of the summer music festival circuit -- top-lining here, at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, throughout Europe and Japan into next fall as no rapper has done before him -- could be expected to do. And although Jay-Z has an illustrious history of rock-rap collabos with the likes of Linkin Park and Coldplay's Chris Martin, the MC didn't water down the urban content or grittiness quotient for his low-desert constituency.

Rumors that Dr. Dre would make the trip down from L.A. for a guest performance of their reported duet "Under Pressure" proved unfounded. But Hova's wife, Beyonce, took the stage, subbing for Mr. Hudson on the song "Young Forever" and generally bringing an upped superstar quotient to the fest, closer in league to the Top 40 than Coachella's indie roots.


Jay ran through many of his most beloved hits -- "Big Pimpin'," "Run This Town" and "Show Me What You Got" as well as his biggest hit to date, "Empire State of Mind" -- but also gave a shout-out to indie bands Passion Pit, Grizzly Bear and "Yeasayers" (if Hovi Baby wants to randomly pluralize what’s arguably Brooklyn’s hottest group du jour, sorry Coachellans, you’re just going to have to choke on it). As well, Jay reprised his cover of Oasis’ epochal hit “Wonderwall” – an oblique reference to the rapper’s gangbuster festival debut at the UK's Glastonbury Festival in 2008, the year Oasis’ chief songwriter Noel Gallagher decreed it was “wrong” to have a rhyme-spitter claim the top spot at the historically rock-oriented festival.

How times have changed. And then there were fireworks: a blaze of pyrotechnics illuminating the sky over Indio like the Fourth of July as Jay-Z closed his set. The crowd roared its collective approval and extended the Brooklyn-born MC by forming his characteristic “diamond-cutter” symbol with their hands to the outro of Jay-Z’s 2003 hit “Encore”: "Can I get an encore?/Do you want more? Cookin' raw with the Brooklyn boy."

-- Chris Lee

Top photo: Jay-Z performs at the Coachella music festival on Friday.

Second photo: Beyonce watches as husband Jay-Z performs onstage. 

Credits: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times