Jay-Z once again demonstrated his instinct for the common touch by boarding the R train in Manhattan and taking the subway to Brooklyn for the final night of his eight sold-out concerts at the Barclays Arena, the new home home of the Brooklyn Nets.
The move had many New Yorkers startled by the sight of the rap mogul standing on the subway platform at Canal Street, riding to the Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center stop—yes, the subway stop even has a new name, partly thanks to his efforts. While Jay-Z owns just 0.067 percent of the Nets and less than 0.2 percent of the Barclays Center, he has put his stamp on the new space more than any other figure—and probably more than any musician has ever connected himself to an arena.
Of course, Jay is going to realize significant financial benefit from his connection, opening a franchise of his 40/40 club inside the Arena, exclusively selling his Armadale vodka at the Arena and using his advertising agency to do the advertising for the Arena. But as a piece on NPR by Frannie Kelly indicated, no one in Brooklyn begrudges him this potential windfall because Brooklynites feel that the Arena is authentically his and he is authentically them.
“Jay-Z’s origins, the way he reminds us of the circumstances he came up in and his unapologetic joy at living comfortably now, links him to this team and its home court more tightly than other celebrity musician investors in professional teams are tied to theirs: Will Smith to the Philadelphia 76ers, Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Buffet et al to the Miami Dolphins,” Kelly wrote. “What they’re selling out in Brooklyn isn’t an NBA team. They’re selling Jay-Z’s rags-to-riches story. And he’s offering it up, at a lower price than you’d think.”
When Jay-Z popped up on the subway, it prompted many tweets and Instagram pictures from subway riders, including the wonderful shot of Jay-Z sitting on the train with his arm around an older white lady.
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“So I’m in the train station minding my own business and Jay-Z walks by. Wtf.” Instagram user rareunlimite
“I’ve been on many stages. Been all around the world,” Jay-Z said on the stage last Friday. “Nothing feels like tonight.”
In response, the crowd broke out into a chant of “Brooklyn, Brooklyn.”
According to Kelly, who said she lives just a few blocks from the Arena, “Jay sounded as incredulous as we felt.”