Detroit hasn't screamed this loud at a baseball park since Kirk Gibson was hitting home runs in the 1984 World Series. Hip-hop history was made as Jay-Z and Eminem co-headlined the Motor City's Comerica Park (home of the D-Town Tigers for the past decade) on Thursday night (September 2), the first of two shows on consecutive nights.
While Jay's high-grossing touring schedule helped him to top this year's Forbes' "Hip-Hop Cash King" list, Eminem took a much-needed sabbatical to deal with a myriad of personal issues. Now beyond his darkest hour, Em had one of his brightest moments ever onstage. Not only did he gift his hometown with a seemingly endless string of hits, he pulled off some major surprises. After D12, 50 Cent and the G-Unit — acts that fans likely expected — came out for performances with Em, Slim Shady pulled off a shocker. Dr. Dre came out, first stunning the people then delighting them with smashes.
After his name appeared on the Comerica big screen, the man heralded by many as the greatest producer of his time came out to the opening notes of his world-famous "Next Episode." Then the familiar first keys of "Still Dre" were played.
"Haters say Dre fell off," the Doc rapped. "How n---a? My last album was The Chronic."
After that, the Shady/Aftermath duo took it back to Dre's Chronic days with "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang."
"One, two, three and to the fo," Em rapped in Snoop's cadence.
" 'Cause you know we came to rip sh-- up!" Dre spit later.
Dr. Dre appeared to be in the best shape of his life. Wearing a T-shirt with the late Proof's face printed on it, Dre looked strong enough to end the Undertaker's undefeated streak at Wrestlemania.
"Got dammit, Detroit. Do I love you or what?" Eminem asked his fans. "Look what I brought out for you."
Em then told Dre he wanted him to feel the love; Detox chants followed.
"Deeee-tox. Deeee-tox," they yelled from the bleachers to the bullpen. Dre just smiled and said, "I'm Comin'!"
One would-be guest who couldn't attend for obvious reasons was Lil Wayne. But Shady made sure to salute Weezy after "No Love." And the Young Money flag did wave proudly in Detroit as Drake came out for "Forever" and gave a special nod to the Motor City.
"In Detroit, faded off the brown," Drake rapped.
"Nino!!!!" the crowd responded.
"I'm so honored to be here to tonight. This is history in the making. I want y'all to make some noise for the muthaf---in' legend that is Emimem."
Em's legend was largely built off his mastery of music and a catalog made for the kind of environment he played on Thursday: stadiums. The Detroit rapper has been making sing-along anthems throughout his career. Not just tracks you rap in the shower or in the car, but big records like "Sing for the Moment," "Stan" and "Cleaning Out My Closet" — tracks practically begging for an audience of tens of thousands holding lighters up. Em proved he still has that rare connection with his fanbase. Grown men took off their shirts and got rock-n-roll rowdy when he rapped.
"Got dammit, Detroit, I'm back," Em said early on in the night. "Did you miss me?"
It was clear that Em missed his fans as well. He was engaging, lively and energetic on this night. After the "Real Slim Shady" and "Without Me," Em thanked his fans again.
"I love you. This song is for you." "Not Afraid" followed. After screams of "encore, encore," Em brought out the Unit, D12 and Detroit legend Trick Trick who had earlier performed on "Lose Yourself."
Thursday's Home and Home show kicked off with B.o.B, who came back later for "Airplanes, Pt. 2," and set the tone with a quick set that included "Nothin' on You."
The audience was eventually alerted that the Jiggaman was 10 minutes away from showtime. Two clocks filled two oversize screens on the enormous stage while the Beastie Boys' "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" blared from the speakers. When the countdown hit "0," Jay rose from beneath the stage, the lyrically intricate "Dynasty Intro" being played by his band, the Roc Boys. Then a brief snippet of "Lucifer" played before Jay went into his jaw-dropping verse from Rick Ross' "Free Mason."
During "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)," Jay rhymed "this might need a verse from Jeezy." On cue, the Snowman came out for the "Dey Know" remix followed by "Soul Survivor." His mini-set ended with "Put on for My City" and "Lose My Mind."
After that though, it was the Jay hit parade — with assistance from Memphis Bleek. The Brooklyn duo rocked with a flurry of big records, including "You Don't Know," "99 Problems" and "(Originator 99)." During "Big Pimpin'," Jay delivered Pimp C's verse in the late UGK legend's cadence.
"What y'all know about them Deetroit boys?" Hov asked.
A tribute to hip-hop's fallen soldiers ensued, as the audience shouted in unison, "Prrrrrooooooooof!"
"I know y'all going through a lot, but Detroit has heart and Detroit will be back," Jay said.
Hov and Slim Shady shared but a few minutes of stage time as Jay emerged for "Renegade" during Em's set.
The Home and Home Tour continues Friday night (September 3) at Comerica Park and comes to the Bronx, New York, on September 13 and 14 at Yankee Stadium.