Kanye West and Jay-Z's WATCH THE THRONE tour. An amazing double bill for a record that, at absolute best, is pretty ok. At a time when America is floundering, begging and pleading for an easier, cheaper way, our two best rappers, musicians who have transcended genre and race, have released an album that is, at essence, about how much money they have. And, at times, it's very good. "N****s In Paris", "Otis" and "New Day", specifically, are pretty brilliant. Too much of the record, though, is pure bank account masturbation from rappers that are, and have always been, better.
Live, though, it's a different story. The Throne, as they call themselves, are a force to be reckoned with. Hova and Yeezy know each other inside and out, backwards and forwards, and it shows. They move from joint songs to individual jams with a fluid motion (other than at the end, and we'll get to that), and they play to each other's strengths: Jay-Z is the stayed, stoic elder statesman, and Kanye is the potential loose cannon, emotional game of Jenga that he always is. While Hova worked through his ample back catalog of hits: "Hard Knock Life", "Big Pimpin", every other song you would know, Yeezy played it a bit rougher, only throwing down one song from his formative first record("Jesus Walks"),and choosing instead to focus on later songs. "Stronger" was powerful, as was "Flashing Lights", but it was the ...Twisted Fantasy tunes, like "Monster" and "Power" that came out the best, no doubt because that record was, ultimately, the most Yeezy record other than 808s, which was, probably by his standards, a commercial flop. By all accounts, though, two songs stood out: "Runaway", complete with a Kanye rant on love and loss, and "So Appalled", the accidental encore. It's one of the things everyone's missing: there was another encore, one other than the three versions (THREE) of "N****s In Paris". It was amazing and off-the-cuff, something not expected for a live show that's built on pre-decided intros and outros and transitions. All of it was beautiful, but it was the punch of Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" followed by the aforementioned super-powerful "Runaway" that made me cry as though I'd never been touched.