Last Friday two things changed. The shifts weren't seismic, or unexpected, but now Brooklyn is different and hip-hop is different. It's because of Jay-Z, who, despite owning only 0.067% of the Nets and less than 0.2% of the Barclays Center, has become the public face of Brooklyn – not the team, the town.She recognizes it's complicated, but Jay-Z's powerful:
I live four blocks from the Barclays Center.... That intersection was unlovely before this whole project started, in 2003, and despite everything — the deployment of eminent domain, the demolishing of my second-favorite bar in the world, the billion dollars of NYC taxpayer money subsidizing the building and future development around it — I'm into it.
...That affordable housing is to be subsidized not by Ratner, but by the city. As Councilwoman James said, it was a nice move bringing in Jay to paper over Brooklyn's doubts.I'm not sure if you can get into those clubs by buying discount tickets.
The Barclays Center is fraught, but watching Jay open it was touching, and that night, I did not feel complicated about him.
...Tuesday night I went to get my hair done. The place I go is five blocks north of Barclays. Within minutes of sitting down in the chair we, clients and hairdressers alike, were all talking about "the show." To a woman, we had trepidations about the arena when it was under construction. And now we're talking about buying discount Nets tickets just to go to the clubs inside Barclays.
I could be completely cynical about Jay-Z and the Barclays Center. After all, it would be rare for any professional artist, entertainer, businessman to do something without caring about getting paid. But for this man, who is black, who was raised without a father in a nearby housing project, who flipped a rap career out of drug money, millions aren't only dollar signs. In his words, "I do this for my culture / To let them know what a n---- look like when a n---- in a roadster." Picture that, with a Kodak.OK, but that pride, that message, that gift to "my culture," that papering over the tough stuff about Atlantic Yards--that also helps Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov. The Barclays Center is fraught, and if Jay-Z's not considered part of that, well, to quote Council Member Letitia James, that's slick.