Jay Z is only 44 years old, but he’s already got a legacy of the sort that earns artists a lifetime achievement Grammy or something of the like. If you’re at all in touch with modern hip-hop, you probably have trouble remembering a time when Jay Z didn’t reign supreme. Yet his debut album dropped in 1996, and for a good 10 years, he was known more as a rapper than a mogul.
Marriage to Beyonce, and the gobbling up of more entrepreneurial opportunities than anyone this side of Donald Trump, has turned the Brooklyn-born Mr. Carter into a household name. But despite the relative weakness of his most recent album, the rather hit-and-miss “Magna Carta… Holy Grail,” when Jay Z takes to the stage, the tabloid fodder, business deals and sports-related activity is swept to the side. Give the man a mic, and he owns the stage and the building alike, whatever building that might be. (Perhaps even literally.)
In the midst of his “Magana Carata” tour, Jay Z performs at 8 p.m. next Thursday in the First Niagara Center. Longtime collaborator Timbaland will man the tables and plonk some synths as part of his backing ensemble. Tickets range from $39.50 to $125 (box office, www.tickets.com).
– Jeff Miers