10 things we learned from Watch the Throne
(1) Now, that’s what I call a show. Jay-Z and Kanye West brought the Watch the Throne juggernaut to Dublin at the weekend complete with giant podiums, lasers, projections of sharks, birds, pitbulls and marauding jungle animals, a gigantic stars-and-stripes’ …
(1) Now, that’s what I call a show. Jay-Z and Kanye West brought the Watch the Throne juggernaut to Dublin at the weekend complete with giant podiums, lasers, projections of sharks, birds, pitbulls and marauding jungle animals, a gigantic stars-and-stripes’ flag and two-and-a-half hours of bumper-to-bumper boom tunes. It made up for every hour spent watching crappy hip-hop shows from half-assed rappers over the years. Game is on a whole new level now, folks. My review for Saturday’s paper is here.
(2) Jigga’s brand awareness is always on point. Note the presence of a Brooklyn Nets’ cap on his noggin to endorse his team. Bet he’ll change the lyrcs to “Empire State Of Mind” at some stage to mark the new allegiance.
(3) Back in November 2004, Kanye West arrived in Dublin for the first time with a team of four or five. He played two shows, one in the old Point Depot and a late-night club set in Vicar Street, and got around town in a van with his crew. It was a lean, mean, streamlined set-up. Back then, he was just another rapper in a stripey-jumper who didn’t turn heads in a hotel lobby. Fast-forward to 2012 and the arrival of West and his entourage is a whole different story.
(4) Despite the fact that we’re dealing with two monster box-office hits coming together for the first time, there were still plenty of tickets available for the second show. Promoters MCD even put discounted tickets on sale for the Saturday show, a first for an act of this calibre (wonder did anyone who paid full whack for theirs look for a refund on the balance?) which shows that even superstars are having trouble shifting tickets in advance for their shows in 2012. The word-of-mouth from Friday’s show, though, probably helped this one over the line. And while the show was always going to be indoors because of the production, it would probably have struggled to make the numbers outdoors. It’s not just Aslan who are finding advance ticket sales hard to come by this summer. Ask Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna (the reviews from Irish hacks of other dates on her world tour will be along shortly to help shift tickets for this one) for more on this.
(5) Four rampant versions of “Niggas In Paris” at the end. Now, that’s swag.
(6) Jay-Z’s live evolution has been very striking in recent years. Up to his Glastonbury show in 2008, Jay-Z never really had a live buzz – I saw him years ago in New York and it was just another hip-hop show. As he said in an interview with The Ticket in 2010, a Jay-Z rap show was nothing to write home about: “it was just a DJ and a MC and once you’d a hit record, they threw you in front of 50,000 people. You didn’t how to perform, you’d never done that before.” Post-Glastonbury, Jay-Z rebooted the show to suit the new audience who were coming to see him and found a new lease of life. The Watch the Throne hook-up with West takes that to a whole new level.
(7) With people leaving it late in the day to buy their tickets due to lack of cash and other calls on disposable income, you have to wonder how the merchandise pimps thought that flogging t-shirts at a sharp-end €40 a pop was a good idea. The bootleggers outside the venue before and after the gig seemed to be doing better business.
(8) Bigger cheers for Kim Kardashian than Bono. Most of this audience probably think of Bono as the fellow their aul’ lads call a tax dodging short-arse.
(9) West taking the piss out of Jigga’s “Big Pimping”. Pity Jigga didn’t take the piss out of the fact that West was sweating like a junior hurler at Tuesday evening training for the entire show.
(10) So what comes next for the partnership? In some ways, there was probably no need for the pair to come together in the first place – both were doing fine numbers alone – but the “Watch the Throne” album produced impressive creative sparks and augers well for the next artist albums. Will we see another Watch the Throne match-up and tour?