Jay-Z Borrowed My Menorah & Visited My Apt., His "Empire State of Mind" Stash Spot

FUSE TV - Jay-Z Borrowed My Menorah & Visited My Apt., His "Empire State of Mind" Stash Spot

Want two VIP tickets to Jay-Z’s sold-out opening night show at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, followed by a private meeting with the hip hop don a few days later? No problem. Just buy a piece of Judaica and live in his old stash spot, the 560 State Street apartment building immortalized in "Empire State of Mind." Yes, this is a multi-culti Brooklyn hip hop tale for the ages.

At 6:30 PM on Friday, September 28, I was leaning against my apartment building, the very building Jay-Z put on the map when he name-dropped the address in his chart-topping anthem with Alicia Keys. In the song he recites his street hustler-to-rap icon story, made possible only in his hometown: "Took it to my stash spot, 560 State Street," he rhymed of his old pad, where, in the late 1990s, a young Shawn Carter sold drugs and worked on the music that would be his ticket off the streets.

That Friday I was doing what most Brooklynites in my ‘hood were doing: staring at the Barclays Center, the borough’s beautiful new arena, and imagining how dope it’d be to see Jay-Z christen it. Not two hours later I was on the VIP line, standing next to Dave Chappelle, collecting my two tickets to see the Jigga-man himself tear down the house he (sort of) built.

How did all this happen? It all started with a phone call from my brother-in-law, Nate Fish. Our exchange went like this:

Me: Hey Nate.

Nate: Yo, do you have a menorah?

Me: What? Yeah, of course. Why?

Nate: Cool. JAY-Z needs it backstage. 

Nate said this like it was a normal request, like he's often involved with lending religious items to the most famous pop stars on the planet (he is, in fact, not). But, as it turns out, Nate's good pal and high school classmate John was producing the concert series at Barclays and was tasked with locating a menorah, STAT. Knowing Nate was a devout Jew, who had even played for the Israeli Baseball League (he’s the King of Jewish Baseball), John made the call.

Nate continued...: Amit, you understand why they need the menorah, right? Get it? Eight nights. Eight candles.

Let me pause to explain what a menorah is for those who may not know: It's a nine-branched candelabrum lit each night during the Jewish holiday, Hanukah. It commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple some 2,200 years ago in Jerusalem. Now Jay-Z and his team wanted to light one candle for each night of their eight-concert run, held in their own Holy Temple. So, already feeling a kinship with Hova from my chance living at his old residence, I jumped at the idea.

I told Nate to hook John and I up. I figured, Hey, maybe I wouldn’t be able to see the opening night concert, but knowing my menorah would be burning bright for Jay-Z, Beyoncé and the band backstage, warmed my heart. I was filled with joy and a certain bad-ass pride in knowing that for all eternity I could point to my shelf and say, “See that menorah? That bad-boy was lit backstage at Jay-Z’s opening show at the Barclays Center. That menorah is a legend."

I rushed home knowing only that John was going to stop by in less than an hour to pick up THE menorah. When he arrived right on time, my wife and I handed him the menorah and a few fancy Hannukah candles, both of which were wedding presents. I thought, 'If not for Jay-Z, then f--king when?'

John thanked us and told us the menorah was a blessing. "And to thank you," he said, "We’re gonna hook you up with two VIP tickets. Sound good?"

My wife and I almost pooped matching boxes of matzah.

And so with our menorah lit somewhere backstage at Barclays and Jay-Z killing it on stage, my wife and I sat in the heart of the new arena and took in the show of shows. It was truly epic (read Fuse's full concert report and see live photos).


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