The 39-year-old Brooklyn native performed to a sold-out crowd Friday night for his "Answer the Call" concert, which paid tribute to the police officers and firefighters who died responding to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The Pledge of Allegiance kicked off the show, followed by "The Star-Spangled Banner" infused with an electric guitar. Jay-Z continued with his own New York anthems _ including "Empire State of Mind"; "Where I'm From," a song about his upbringing in the Marcy housing projects complex; and "Brooklyn Go Hard," a collaboration with alternative singer Santigold.
The rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, went on to perform over 30 songs from his 11 albums during the two-hour set. The concert aired on Fuse TV, and all proceeds will be donated to the New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund.
A myriad of special guests came out to help celebrate. John Mayer rocked out on the electric guitar on "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and Mary J. Blige added her signature gritty soul-sound on "Can't Knock the Hustle."
Jay-Z's wife, Beyonce, dominated the stage with a swagger-jammed dance routine to her hit song "Diva."
Rihanna, in her first performance since her February altercation with Chris Brown, showed she's ready to return to the stage when she sang on "Run This Town." Kanye West also performed on the song.
"We stand here tonight eight years later even stronger, even stronger," Jay-Z yelled before the performance. "This is our own. We run this town New York City!"
The performers set a serious tone Friday night _ wearing mainly black and gray onstage.
The crowd, who chanted "Hova," Jay-Z's nickname, between each song, never sat since the first song began.
On the eight-year anniversary of 9/11, the rapper _ who has had major success on the charts and has garnered as much respect on the streets _ hoped to add light to the tragic day.
"We should always move past it and be strong but never forget," he said in a recent interview.
Jay-Z held a moment of silence three-quarters into the show, but the most emotional moment of the night came later when a montage of the faces of the men and women who died on 9/11 was shown. The head shots of the fallen appeared on a backdrop of buildings while Jay-Z's "Young Forever" played in the background.
"Make some noise for everybody that lost their lives so we can live ours," he said.