There’s little than can be written about Watch The Throne itself that hasn’t already been shared, blogged or tweeted in the 11 months since the highly anticipated Jay-Z/Kanye West collab was released, properly, following perhaps the most miraculous non-leak of the post-Napster era. And nothing about Friday’s tour closer in Birmingham, U.K. — the final gig of a 57-date jaunt that spanned nearly eight months, 12 countries and two continents — was all that different from the string of much-buzzed-about performances that preceded it. Well, besides Beyonce and Kim Kardashian watching it from the floor, of course. (Encircled by a gaggle of linebacker-sized bodyguards, natch.)
Yet there was a sense of profundity, if not history, to the final recital of what could very well be remembered as the finest hour of arena hip-hop, since it’s hard to imagine where the genre, if that’s what we’re calling it, can possibly go from here. The dizzying floor-to-ceiling lasers during “All Of The Lights,” the pitch-perfect pyrotechnics during “Otis” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” the epileptic light-spasms during “N*****s in Paris”: all of it was informed with a greater sense of occasion for nearly two-and-a-half hours on a chilly night in the West Midlands, the tour’s fifth show in a U.K. market that’s helped propel overall receipts past the $50-million mark.
The LG Arena, a hip 16,000-seat multi-purpose venue with interiors that marry elements of A Clockwork Orange with Back To The Future Part II, was packed to the gills by the time Jay-Z and Kanye emerged from opposite ends of the space on hydraulic powered cubical platforms that slowly elevated more than 40 feet, making each performer a prototypical spectacle while prompting an arena-wide starscape of camera phones. The artsy visuals only built from there, from the Givenchy-designed American flag during “Otis,” to the provocative (yet knowingly meaningful) juxtaposition of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” against discomforting archival footage of prepubescent Ku Klux Klansmen.
June 23, 2012 Comments Off
Here’s my write-up of Tuesday night’s Kanye West gig at the Museum of Modern Art, where surprise guest Jay-Z melted faces during a two-set encore.
May 11, 2011 No Comments
I tuned in with great interest to Kanye West’s 35-minute art film Runaway when it debuted Saturday via zone-flooding simulcast on MTV, BET, VH1, MTV2, MTV.com, BET.com and VH1.com. A big-ticket music video in the tradition of long-form clips like Moonwalker and Thriller and thematic musical films like The Wall and Purple Rain, the Kanye-directed piece is a culmination of several weeks of leaked tracks from the forthcoming My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy LP. The film’s teaser trailer (above), like any good teaser trailer, revealed little but promised much: it might be awesome or it might be awful, but it was certain to be spectacular in the literal sense. All bets were off, really. [Read more →]
October 24, 2010 No Comments