Last night, Jay-Z made his first public postpartum appearance in Manhattan, the new father welcoming his renovated 40/40 Club into the world. With weeks of constant media exposure behind him, he was surprisingly low-key: Harlem’s legendary DJ S&S didn’t say his name at all. (For context: ESPN’s Steven A. Smith was shouted out twice, singer/Kardashian-dater Adrienne Bailon once.) In the same vein, rather than allowing security to lead the way, Hov cut out his own path to the VIP section. His black suit fit slim-cut; he looked very trim. He’s already lost the baby weight.
The 40/40 Club, bought by Jay-Z in a flurry of synergy nine years ago, is a sports bar for a certain type of baller: $650 bottles of Ace of Spades champagne line the walls beneath enormous video screens. J. Cole had a mixtape release party there; Lebron James and Chris Brown have celebrated birthdays within those walls. But it’s mostly known from Jay’s songs. Unfortunately, clubs can’t exist solely on the strength of mentions in lyrics and as backgrounds in music videos: In recent years, countless afterparties have been lost to places further downtown like 1Oak and Greenhouse, and so Jay (and his investing partners) have infused it with a $10 million makeover. In an email to Rolling Stone, Jay noted the work done by designer Jeffrey Beers, pointing out the “beautiful chandeliers and rooms upstairs. I wanted to retain the feel of a clubhouse, a relaxed place to interact with friends.”
Even with Wikipedia down, rumors spread earlier in the day that Beyoncé would make an appearance. While neither she nor Blue Ivy showed up – possibly because it’s so hard to find a good sitter; more probably because she gave birth two weeks ago – it seemed like everyone else did: Swizz Beatz held court with Jay and Hot 97’s Ebro Darden in a banquette upstairs as onlookers gawked. Ashanti, in a floor-length gown, laughed alongside Irv Gotti, a Murder Inc. reunion of sorts. Teedle-toddling through the main area, Warren Buffett (yes, that Warren Buffett) threw up the Roc hand-sign for the cameras; he and rapper Wale seemed to be wearing similar glass frames. Spike Lee wore New York Giants gear from head to toe, his beloved Knicks having lost another heartbreaker just moments before his arrival. (When several team members rolled through, a disappointed twenty-something nearby loudly announced, “I didn’t know only the scrub Knicks would be here!”) Questlove left before midnight, or tried to, waiting in a never-ending line at coat check. Upon being asked for baby advice for Jay and Bey, Russell Simmons said simply, “I don’t have any.” Fabolous and Bailon got lost on the way to VIP; Selita Ebanks did not. C.C. Sabathia was among the last to leave at 2 a.m., long after maintenance workers had begun mopping.
A few days ago, a poem went viral across the Internet, purporting to be written by Jay-Z, claiming that he would stop saying the word “bitch” now that he’d had a daughter. (This was proven untrue: in an email to Rolling Stone, he said “the poem and story are fake…haaaaaa.”) As if to prove its falsehood, Too $hort’s “Blow the Whistle” was played near the end of the night. The most famous lyrics? “What’s my favorite word? Bitch!” DJ S&S spun it back.