“Nobody is built like you”

“Brooklyn, Brooklyn, Brooklyn, we go hard.”  These lyrics to Jay-Z’s hit song “Brooklyn We Go Hard” echoed throughout the newly finished Barclays Center last Saturday night.  Lights were flashing, the crowd was roaring, and speakers were blasting.  All of the commotion gave us the illusion that the arena, itself, was shaking.  Standing in the upper section, my friends and I seemed lost among the 19,000 that gathered to watch one of the greatest rappers of our generation.  Before I recap this experience, let me get to how we got here to start.

Right before summer’s end, my friends and I were planning ways to keep in touch during college.  We knew we would all see each other during Thanksgiving and Christmas break, but that wasn’t enough for us.   One of the ways we decided to stay close was to go see a concert, but we had to decide whom to see.  My friend Matt brought up that Jay-Z was doing multiple concerts in September, but none of us had ever been to a rap concert.  We decided that it could be pretty cool since we all listened to Jay-Z, and it would be a way for us to reunite during the fall semester.

The night of the concert, we all met outside the Barclays Center an hour before the concert started because we wanted to check out the brand new arena.  Everything inside was state of the art, and cleanliness was not a question.  With every slight turn of the head, all that could be seen was Nets jerseys and fitted caps.  People of various backgrounds came from all over to see Jay-Z perform.  For a while, we seemed to be lost in the extravagance of the place.  It wasn’t long before the concert started, and we found our seats.

Jay-Z opened the concert with two of his classics: “Brooklyn We Go Hard” and “Where I’m From.”  He had the crowd going wild, but we were very intimidated at first.  It had been some time since any of us were at a concert, so we were not used to the speakers blowing out our eardrums.  We were quick to learn a Rap concert was very different from the typical Alternative Rock concert.  As the concert progressed, we loosened up a bit, and the concert became one of the best nights in a long time.

At the conclusion of the concert, Jay-Z addressed the diverse audience with a quote from his song “A Dream.”  He said, “Remind yourself, nobody is built like you, you design yourself.”  These words had me thinking for the few days.  Yes, we are heavily influenced by our biological and ethnic backgrounds, but who we are as individuals is ultimately decided by us.  Our culture can only go so far as to impact who we will become.  Music allows us to recognize our own cultural backgrounds and to open our minds to other cultures waiting to be explored.

The Barclays Center

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4 Responses to “Nobody is built like you”

  1. Joseph Maugeri says:

    I agree, music allows us to experience other cultures. Even other points of time. It’s funny to think how ‘big bands’ would top the charts in the 1940’s, when now the charts mostly consist of pop music and rap. We live in another world, some may say that it is better and some may say it is worst. The culture of today is much different than the culture of the past and will be different than the culture of tomorrow. There is more to culture than just ethnicities and skin color. Cultures of different eras are significant as well. Here is a link to the #1 recorded song in the 1940’s, it’s actually pretty awesome. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJE-onnw2gM

  2. wesleyyun says:

    Like Joseph, I agree on music making a big impact on our lives. And I think the point you made is definitely true about how we create ourselves. But as we see in Jay-Z’s music he usually also makes a point about not forgetting where we are from and to appreciate New York City’s affect on our lives. Experiencing a concert is definitely unique as the music almost always never sounds as good as it does in a studio, but the feelings and emotions of the audience make the experience a memorable one.

  3. tejjybear says:

    I completely understand the feeling of excitement that you must have felt as he started performing. Over the summer, a couple of friends and I went to a Drake concert. I had been looking forward to it for months, as he is one of my favorite artists. The feeling of unity through music (even bad music like Wacka Flacka) was to a great magnitude. I remember just giving high fives to random people as Drake made his appearance and as J Cole played one of his more famous songs (“In the Morning”). Regardless of race or any other characteristic, people were simply enjoying music, forgetting their problems for a while, and that is a cultural encounter everyone must experience.

  4. Rishi Ajmera says:

    This post is incredibly different from what I expected it would be like. From the introduction you spoke of the stadium and the amazing music, however, what really caught my eye was your mention of being intimidated by the music. That’s a fascinating way of looking at a new encounter and especially with music. You go on to talk about the depth of Jay-Z’s comments affected you afterwards. I completely agree with the importance of exploring new cultures and keeping an open mindset. Great piece!

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