Arguably one of the most-hyped albums in recent years, the announcement of the “Watch The Throne Tour” in Europe brought with it expectations that you’d think would be insurmountable, unreachable.
But you’d be wrong.
Why? Partially because, at most, you would have expected a recreation of that album’s most accomplished and much-loved tracks. What you would not have been expecting is an unveiling of two of the best catalogues hip-hop has to offer.
Taking to the stage separately for their solo material, Hov and Ye made Stans of even the most unwilling participants as they dug up jewels from their respective awe-inspiring pasts.
Beginning the show with Hov on one 20-foot stage and Ye on the other, silence boomed into frenzied applause as the lights blasted off and rap royalty suddenly materialized onto the stages.
Proving without a doubt that they still rule their kingdom, the audience was left craning their necks, eyes wide and frantically turning from one side to another as Ye and Hov swapped verses from “H.A.M.” and “Who Gon Stop Me” with videos of rottweilers and sharks lighting the ground between their feet.
Having immediately garnered the attention of the crowd, the MCs kept the entire arena enthralled for the entirety of the forty-plus songs that were performed over the three hours. And if the duo’s presence wasn’t enough for the frenzied crowd, Rihanna added to the star power by joining them on stage for the first time on the tour.
Building off each other, the rapport between the two musical geniuses was palpable. A usually cool Jay-Z was sweating buckets in an effort to give off just as much energy as young Ye was emanating. But if you were to take pains to give one more props than the other –- you would be incapable. Taking a tag-team approach to the night, one minute would find Kanye performing an energetic rendition of “Good Life,” while Jay-Z’s “Empire State Of Mind” occupied the next.
One of the highlights of the night for me was the banter that punctuated the space in between “Gold Digger,” “99 Problems” and “Encore” that affirmed each man’s mutual respect and admiration for the other’s craft as they took turns individually wowing the crowd.
A negative? (There must be one somewhere…) The six reloads of “N*ggas in Paris” that made up the end of the show. Yes, it is a great song. Yes, you are both great. But how many times can you hear the same song in a row?
Evidently, as many as Kanye and Jay-Z tell you to.
After limping out of the arena following hours of waiting and jumping around, you were left with a lingering sense of wonder at the pieces of rap history that had just fallen into place before your eyes — Jay-Z retaining his place as the humble and talented King, and Kanye as the confident and passionate prince.
“If this was your first concert, it’s all downhill from here,” said Jay-Z at the culmination of the night.
And he was right — this night was historic. But if you weren’t there, you wouldn’t understand.