“If you know this song, I want you to sing it so loud he can hear you in heaven,” Jay-Z said before performing the Grammy-winning mashup “Numb/Encore,” standing still and holding the microphone close with both of his hands.
Jay-Z’s set also included big hits from his 21-year-old career, from “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” to “Izzo (H.O.V.A.)” to “Empire State of Mind.” His last main show in New York was part of his 2014 On the Run Tour with Beyonce, though he’s had some performances for his Tidal streaming service and surprise appearances.
Reggae artist Damian Marley joined in for “Bam” from “4:44,” which was released in June and features songs about Jay-Z’s personal life and work as an entrepreneur.
The Meadows festival, in its second year, will also play Saturday and Sunday, featuring performers like Gorillaz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nas, Weezer, Future and LL Cool J across four stages. Migos, Run the Jewels, Two Door Cinema Club and 21 Savage also performed Friday.
Throughout his set, Jay-Z offered concertgoers encouraging words.
“If anybody got a dream, you chase that (dream) with everything you got,” he said at one point.
When one fan was eager for Jay-Z to sign something, the rapper asked if the fan had a pen.
The fan did not.