Watch The Throne Tour: Witnessing Greatness
by Jordan T. Jones | Morehouse College
On the last day of the opening leg of the Watch The Throne tour, I got to witness greatness. I’m talking watching-Kobe-Bryant-play-against-a-veteran-but-not-yet-Wizards-Michael-Jordan greatness. Jay-Z and Kanye West appropriately opened the concert with “H.A.M.” because the next two and half hours we did just that.
Facing each other on opposite stages, the dynamic duo only allowed for vibrant Discovery Channel clips of cheetahs, tigers, and sharks as well as a Tron-like light show to accompany their embodiment of the Throne.
Despite the ridiculously priced tickets, even more ridiculous cost of the tour shirt, and somewhat inaccessible venue, Jay and Ye managed to make the show seem like vintage hip-hop. I witnessed, especially during “Big Pimpin’” and “Jesus Walks”, glimpses of the hunger and drive that existed in both of these artists before they were manually modifying $350,000 Maybachs.
So much of the hip-hop industry revolves around what they have, how much it costs, what we don’t have and how much we cannot afford what they have. Seeing the Throne set-up pre-Kanye and Jay, one could easily get that sense of inaccessibility. With tickets ranging from $60 to nearly $300 dollars, you can hardly justify why a show might cost this much. Whether or not the Throne duo had a hand in price-setting, they performed like they needed the money. Even more importantly, they performed like they needed the love, the support.
The concert’s “intermission” was simply the two sitting stoop-style on the stage and performing their lower energy songs. “New Day” was therapeutic for the two as they cooled off in the middle of their larger than life stage. The two gladiators performed with a Marcus Aurelius intensity as if to say “Are you not entertained?” at the end of each verse. The audience certainly was, especially when Jay rolled out classics like “Dirt of Your Shoulder,” “99 Problems” and “PSA.” Old heads, goons, black kids, white kids, college kids, high school kids, high school teachers, unanimously lost their sh$% on multiple occasions. These are the songs that shaped generations and here were the two men, not gods, not kings, but men who despite the digital cloud that follows them, have stood on stages and in booths and worked and sweat to put each beat, song and performance together.
For me, it was beautiful. In the midst of Kanye’s steady incline, he was humbled. Kanye is arguably one of the most innovative, influential, and relevant icons in pop culture. Fashion designers who would otherwise remain nameless to the masses and samples that would remain dusty and undiscovered are brought to the light for all of those who do not live in “high culture”. The college dropouts, the Steve McQueen mourners and the Taylor Swift haters chaotically fit into the culture that is Yeezy. As Drake would say, “Getting everyone nervous ‘Cuz them hipsters gone have to get along with them hood n*&#@$”. This is the essence of Kanye. Meanwhile Jay-Z, clothed not in a leather kilt or Yeezy 2’s, stood strong in garb that could make any New Yorker feel like a king; A low Yankee cap made for his crown and a black tee, black jeans, and black Timberlands made up his royal outfit.
Jay-Z did not demand anything from the crowd like Kanye constantly does by being cutting edge and controversial. Not his style. Jay, through mere presence, invites an admiration that is larger than life, even if he carries himself as if he still takes cabs in New York. For a man that has been incredibly instrumental in the hip-hop movement, and who is the reason the name Kanye means anything, Jay-Z didn’t act like it. He performed with a laid back demeanor, while it was apparent that Kanye needed to shine.
The show ended with the Throne duo, along with the audience, furiously performing “N*%#@$ in Paris,” a song that generated such pandemonium in the audience that Jay made the executive decision to play it again and again. The love was monumental. Nobody was going to allow these two legends to end a set like that right when the concert was scheduled to end, Jay-Z included. In an endearing unorganized fashion, Kanye deliberated with Jay and the technicians for another few songs to perform. Jay-Z, in his composed varsity-basketball-player-about to turn-pro way, was calm yet energized. He wanted so badly to keep performing, to show himself as he is, not as the collection of pixels and sound bytes that come from the empire he has become. He knew why he stood where he stood and for the slightest moment, you could see his longing to play until the lights went off.
The show was mesmerizing, the energy was electric, the performance was exceptional. I was physically exhausted as I left my upper level stadium chair, but I could not help but think about how those two people felt. What we saw of them, the snippet of their existence, lasted all of two and a half hours in a flurry of songs, wardrobe changes, and stage relocations. The Throne exists in a fishbowl because at the end of the day, we all left the concert with visions of grandeur and gold only to be thrust back into everyday life. The Throne is the shimmering glint of what it means to “Make It In America” even though for them, as the duo confessed in their last song of the night, life can be “so damn ridiculous”.Jordan Jones is a junior English/Spanish double major, Journalism minor, who attends Morehouse College. Born and raised in Atlanta, Jordan currently lives in Washington, D.C.