Some of the most prolific and memorable music in the past decade has come from the minds of Jay-Z and Kanye West. The two hit the stage together and put on one of the most memorable shows of the year. It was a spectacle, to say the least. The arena was turned into Jay and Kanye’s playground. Rising stages, one of which was arranged in the middle of the arena, pyro and lasers were only the tip of the iceberg. Nothing could steal the spotlight from the superstars who have both resided on top of the charts for many years.
There was no opening act. And really no start time. Jay-Z appeared on the massive stage in the center of the audience and fans scrambled into their seats. The show began abruptly as a large flag was unfurled, the bass began to thump and the two rappers faced each other. “Otis,” was played right out of the gate. These two lack nothing in ego nor do they lack recognizable songs. It was a task to pack all of their material into one night.
The two stars spent the night rotating on and off stage. Giving the audience equal parts “Watch The Throne” and “99 Problems.” Although there were thousands of fans in attendance the two also made the show as intimate as possible. West spoke from the heart ( doesn’t he always?) and even went as far to admit he was suicidal not too long ago. Jay also took a few minutes to speak on dreams and the fact that they are achievable.
Although they took time to let everyone know they’re long held aspirations are attainable the cynicism of these two was loud and clear. Louie Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World,” was blasted through the speakers and a montage of burning planes, the Klu Klux Klan, and homeless families stumbling through barren streets were played on large video screens. Jay and West turned their backs on the audience and watched with them. These rappers are due credit. Sure, they may talk about private planes and Maybach’s but there’s always a deeper message. That was a common thread throughout the night and they made sure to convey it.
West is a little like car accident. No matter how much he offends, or in some cases embarrasses himself, you can’t help but look. The controversial rapper does have a sense of humor. Whether making light of himself repeating a verse or stating that “All the black people can give the white people a pass tonight,” when referring to his lyrics. And the N word.
“They can say it tonight, West laughed. This is nominated for song of the year. They can say it.” This was all said after he stopped mid way through “All of the Lights,” right at his famed Michael Jackson line. Half the arena sung with him. The other half, well, they were a little quiet. West always gets what he wants. He wanted the entire audience singing. After his directive, and a second take, they all did safely.
Obviously this show ended in Paris, as expected. The song that has taken over the radio airwaves as of late was met with an uproar from the sold out arena. West and Jay had been on stage for over two hours. They’d been through every hit, covered every album and had put on quite a show. The audience still wanted more. This has become standard for these two. Minutes after they had left the stage a convoy of black suv’s sped away. Police escort and all. A few Apple exec’s reportedly hitched a ride with the two. Another move showing the entrepreneurial spirit of two successful men who are much more than rappers. Watch The Throne is a fitting name for both the album and the tour.