Up Front with Jay-Z at Austin City Limits Live

American Express must have thrown down seven figures plus to book Jay-Z into the pristine Moody Theater in the Austin W complex but it managed to monopolize the buzz — at least for the hmoment — at SXSW Interactive. Jay-Z performed for just under two hours, doing 24 songs (full-length as opposed to the medley format favored on the Watch the Throne tour) cherry-picked from his deep repertoire. Amex flew in Jay and likely a planeload of entourage for this one-off event. I was fortunate to get a spot up close and snapped a ton of photos (only a few of which were worth posting).

SXSW seems to have a dearth of hip-hop on its schedule and this event was not an official part of the conference itself (though it got plenty of love as Amex is a SXSW sponsor). But let’s not kid ourselves, Jay-Z may be the greatest rapper alive but he’s every bit as much of a pop star today as he is hip-hop. The show was also simulcast within the W, on a big screen on Red River and on YouTube (watch on demand here). Photos, video and setlist below.

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