Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne Tour in Miami, November 15

JayZKanyeMiami1.jpg
Photo by Sayre Berman
See the full 25-photo Jay-Z and Kanye West at American Airlines Arena slideshow.

Jay-Z and Kanye West
Watch the Throne Tour
American Airlines Arena
Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Better Than: A motherfuckin' rap opera at Versailles, teleported to outer space.

From the streets to their palaces, Jay-Z and Kanye are self-made monarchs whose intertwined ascent has been entirely motivated by an insatiable lust for the spoils of the American Dream.

At this point, though, after a decade and a half of non-stop striving, aspiring, and mythologizing, Jay and Ye rule hip-hop. They're rap royalty with billions in the bank and a fat catalog studded with massive 1000-carat tracks.

So what are a couple of conquerors like His Hovatastic Majesty and King Kanye to do when there's no conquerin' left to be done? Nothing, except Watch the Throne.

As leaders of the rap royal family, Jay and Ye are so rich and powerful that they can basically do whatever the fuck they want. Yeah, there's the risk of revolution, backlash, overthrow. But all they've gotta do is hire the best producers, video directors, and hypemen to help protect the kingdom.

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Photo by Sayre Berman
Jay and Ye are just too big for the average American arena.

That's exactly what Hova and Yeezy did for their new-ish album. And it's also the strategy for their current tag-team tour, a megaconcert superspectacle that's almost too big for the average American arena with its insane 44-song setlist, dual-stage setup, and generally random collection of crazy-expensive theatrical tricks, including spacey lasers shows, hellishly fiery pyrotechnics, and levitating, house-sized LED platforms.

The show began at precisely 9:10 p.m. when the American Airlines Arena's house lights went black, a snippet of opera boomed from the speaker stacks dangling from the ceiling, and every single beholder of the Throne started snapping photos, setting off a stroboscopic frenzy of camera phone flash.

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Photo by Sayre Berman
Even King James showed up to help keep an eye on the Throne.

A minute later, Jay and Ye emerged from the darkness, each perched atop his own enormous black platform. And facing one another from opposite ends of the arena, separated only by a moat of fans freaking the fuck out, they ripped into "H.A.M." as those platforms slowly rose above the crowd, eventually becoming giant 25-foot-tall jumbotron cubes broadcasting looped video footage of snarling, barking Dobermans.

After the next track, "Who Gon Stop Me," a mini-montage of great white sharks prowling the bright blue depths for prey, and plenty of laser action, Jay-Z took some unseen (and presumably underground) path to the larger stage. The DJ killed time with an extended sample of Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness." A stylishly distressed American flag unfurled from the rafters. And then the stage burped fireballs as Jay finally joined Kanye for a quick series of Watch the Throne tracks -- "Otis," "Welcome to the Jungle," and "Gotta Have It."

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Photo by Sayre Berman

The masses lost their minds, throwing hands and diamond signs toward the sky. Dressed in Yankees snapback cap, black tee, black pants, black boots, and a star-spangled handkerchief hanging out of his back pocket, Hova waved back at his people while Kanye (rockin' a weird getup -- comically oversized black t-shirt, pleated black leather skirt, leather skinny jeans, and designer sneakers) tossed out a double-fisted salute.

At that point, this epic extravaganza entered its main stretch, a retrospective 32-song marathon with Jay-Z and Kanye trading off short two- and three-track solo sets of their own material, from Hova's massive cache of killer records (especially In My Lifetime Volumes I to III, the Blueprint trilogy, and The Black Album) to all five of Yeezy's emo-rap opuses: College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, 808s and Heartbreak, and last year's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

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Photo by Sayre Berman

Jay held court first, tossing off raw, stripped-down takes of "Where I'm From" and "Nigga What, Nigga Who (Originator 99)" before handing the scepter over to Ye for a laser-soaked sprint through "Can't Tell Me Nothing," "Flashing Lights," and "Jesus Walks," which climaxed with King Kanye on his knees at center stage, fistpumping toward the heavens.

They doubled up on "Diamonds Are Forever" as Hova reminded us that "I'm not a businessman/I'm a business, man." Then Jay-Z knocked out "Public Service Announcement," followed immediately by "U Don't Know." And Kanye returned to duet on "Run This Town" before charging through two Dark Twisted tracks, "Power" and "Monster."

By 10:11 p.m., Jay and Ye's superspectacle was barely half finished. And this elaborate back-and-forth was repeated again and again as the rappers rotated stage duties, cycling through another dozen songs, a couple of wardrobe changes, and several theatrical set pieces. It was meticulously planned, smoothly orchestrated, and obviously rehearsed to the most infinitesimal detail.

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Photo by Sayre Berman

Overall, this totally micromanaged, militarily controlled approach to putting on a superspectacle gave the show a certain kind of mesmerizing momentum. The pace of the proceedings was rapid. There were no awkward stalls in the action. And Kanye never descended into one of his trademark rants about sound quality or audience enthusiasm.

Location Info

Venue

Map

American Airlines Arena

601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL

Category: Music

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8 comments
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aCOMP
aCOMP

That shit was cra..............ZY!  Best concert of the year.

urbabymama
urbabymama

was kanye wearing a leather skirt? lmaoooooooo

Victor0927
Victor0927

Great article but you forgot the song that made mr west who he is.. "through the wire"

Guest
Guest

i took a dump on the throne

helen
helen

I'm still sore and my voice hasn't quite returned yet! It could be cause I'm 53 and was rocking like I was 23, or it could be that those brotha's just did the damn thing. Or hell...it's both! I LOVED it and Niggas in Paris 5times...OMG!

Samantha Is Soo Savory
Samantha Is Soo Savory

CONCERT WAS F'N AMAZINGGGGGGGGGGG!!! The 'Niggas in Paris' X5 was hilarious and some how, every time it came on, I got MORE hype. lol Only true Jay & Yeezy stans would understand!  Great article :)

WatchedTheThrone
WatchedTheThrone

Someone is a Kanye hater... but who cares because not only did Kanye and Jay put on a great show but, you like Pitbull. 

GREAT SHOW!!!

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