Jamaica was never named by Jay-Z and Beyonce when they stopped into MetLife Stadium last week for two nights of their On The Run Tour 2.
The power couple did not mention “the Rock,” “Yard” or “the land of wood and water” when they elevated onto a stage wearing coordinated white outfits signifying renewal of their wedding vows. However, throughout their 36-song set — that will run until Oct. 4 — they spotlighted reggae’s birth land, the first independent English-speaking Caribbean island and the fact the destination is one of their preferred locations.
“When I heard a radio promo using Dawn Penn’s signature song ‘No,No, No’ I knew it was going to be wicked,” Lister Hewan Lowe, a WBAI-FM producer said.
“I was doing something, heard it and had to stop to check out the message,” the former Island Records promotion manager added.
He was not alone, many Jamaicans responded to the teaser and hurried to the New Jersey stadium to catch one or two nights booked there.
Using film footage for interludes, throughout the two-hour concert the pop queen and king of hip-hop seemed larger than life presenting Jamaica as their playground for love and happiness.
Earlier this year, the couple was spotted on the island.
While there, a video snippet went viral of them on motorbikes.
On the island to film visuals for the tour, little else was disclosed at that time about the very, brief visit.
However, since the beginning of the OTRII Tour in June in Europe, patrons are bearing witness to scenes of Mr. and Mrs. Shawn Carter running blissfully into the green foliage of a sugar cane farm, riding with nationals through a town, in a baptismal scene and in a touching depiction blindfolded for a renewal of their wedding vows.
Together they are revealed in loving embrace with their three children — Blue Ivy, Sir and Rumi.
Two huge digital video projectors punctuated and amplified aerial visuals of Kingston, Trench Town and other scenic spots. The fact the Queen Bee quenched her thirst drinking Red Stripe Beer and a cold water coconut was not lost on patrons who related to the identifiers of the black, gold and green landmark.
Scenes with a contortionist, Rastafarians — the family in church, lots of frolicking through the countryside and even showcase of a roomful of Jamaican currency featured the island.
Clearly identifiable throughout the travelogue is the $1,000 bill decorated by Prime Minister Michael Manley, leader of the People’s National Party.
Equal opportunity presenters, the politically correct citizens also displayed the smiling face of the leader of the opposing party’s Sir Alexander Bustamante who became the nation’s first head of government of the independent country in 1962.
Together, the Carters provided a virtual photographic view of the place some revere as paradise.
However, it was Jay-Z’s fashion foray that shouted out big-up salutations to the populace.
At one juncture he modeled a jacket emblazoned with the Lion of Judah.
A symbol of Rastafarian allegiance and Ethiopian association, the garment emphasized an acknowledgement of Jamaica’s roots culture and heritage.
In the song, “Big Pimpin” he lauded deejays Ninjaman, Super Cat and a long list of reggae, dancehall icons.
The 19-time Grammy winning, Brooklyn-born rapper — outfitted by Antiguan June Ambrose — also wore a silk jacket which clearly gave a nod to island style with tall coconut (palm) trees decorating the back.
Needless to say Jay-Z’s wardrobe change started “Nice” before advancing to fashion messaging related to topical commentaries.
He wore a bullet-proof vest as mug-shot images of activists Angela Davis, Black Panther’s Joanne Chessimard, rapper Snoop Dogg, Meek Mill, Sean “P-Diddy” Combs, Rev. Jesse Jackson and others flashed prominent, arrested US citizens.
That this powerful couple is able to tackle controversial topics and still manage to attract 80,000 fans in stadiums — often multiple times in some cities — during 48 concerts — 30 stateside is nothing short of unprecedented.
Self-acclaimed gangster and the queen, they have boldly stood with the parents of Trayvon Martin to denounce police brutality.
They marched with Al Sharpton and hundreds here to police headquarters in order to show solidarity with the bereaved parents who lost their teenaged son after a trigger-happy, gun-toting security officer opened fire in Florida.
To Be or not to bee, both he and she have proven their might.
Recently, Beyonce secured full creative control for a Vogue Magazine issue due on newsstands next month. One of her first demands was that a Black photographer would be installed to shoot her cover picture — a first for the popular fashion scribe.
Unprecedented for the high profile publication more mags than ever on the fashion circuit have since followed her lead to release covers of eight Black celebrities — the most ever — during the biggest selling publication month for fall fashion previews.
Among them, singer Rihanna, comedienne Tiffany Haddish, actresses Zendaya, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lupita N’yongo and model Slick Woods.
But back to the Jamaica-flavored, expressive excursion that passed through the tri-state area on the eve of Jamaica’s celebration of their 56th anniversary of independence — sequences spotlighting Kingston’s L’Antoinette Stines’ L’Antech Dance Company were vividly featured with beautiful Jamaican children, weed smoking, dreadlocked men and Beyonce crediting a “Dutty Wine” routine to a collaboration she recorded with Jamaican deejay Sean Paul on a song titled “Baby Boy.”
Along with her former group Destiny’s Child, the Texas-born, pop star had performed the song in Montego Bay, Jamaica at Reggae Sumfest in 2003.
Fifteen years later she reprised the well-choreographed routine wearing “batty rider” shorts.
Together they fired-up the audience showing how they burned down a house to provide a travelogue for the Jamaica Tourist Board to exploit for another “One Love” promotional commercial.
Married 10 years, they also exposed the foibles of married life, revealing the beauty and difficulties of love and commitment. No sugar-coating of their marriage, warts and all — lies, infidelity, they revealed more than enough for the beehive and detractors to absorb.
Feminism also had its share of focus. Powerful and absorbing their support of the #MeToo Movement also carved out a huge chuck of approval from crowds who travelled from Connecticut, Philadelphia, and Africa to see the spectacular showcase.
“I saw the show in London and I was in awe of her energy, Eno Olafisoye, a Nigerian citizen said.
“Friends and I flew in from Lagos in order to catch the performance and we returned home feeling we had gotten our money’s worth.”
After 21 years in the spotlight, the fierce Beehive as they are known have been swarming and to the detractors provided stinging rebuke to criticism hurled her way.
Forget about the elevated stage that raised over the audience seated on floor level others will make that a focus because it certainly was thrilling to look upwards to see the show.
Never mind this insider yielding to providing a set list, between the pair hit after hit kept fans standing from start to finish.
When it was all over “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It,” “Love on Top,” and many of the Destiny’s Child favorites and Jay-Z’s “New York” did not make the cut.
This outing was unique.
Two hours was not enough.
Like the “Formation” tour at Citi Field Stadium which stopped in Queens and featured the Queen Bee delivering nectar, bedazzled, charmed and even danced on water, the Mrs. Carter World Tour at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center where she traversed through the air from one end of the venue to the other to this spectacle with her husband the main message was all encompassing love.
For starters, patrons entering the football stadium were greeted by millenials carrying clipboards to register new voters. Voter registration ends on Aug. 19 and there were plenty of reminders to sign the pre-election requisite.
The couple certainly did not need an opening act. However they invited duo Chloe x Halle and DJ Khaled – who invited a few of his friends to spread the love and fuel the fire.
Some included Remy Ma, Busta Rhymes — and future hip-hop sensations.
All in all the August presentation staged “One Love.”
Catch You On The Inside!