The show itself was one wild ride, filled with plot twists and sinister turns around every corner. A massive selection of songs from each artist were performed, interspersed with songs from the Watch the Throne album that Jay-Z and Kanye West penned together as The Throne.
Jay walked through the crowd onto a stage located at the back of The Palace. As he started spitting, the platform rose high, high, high, high-er, until it towered above everyone and dwarfed everything. It caused you to lose your breath, forced you to take a step back; the electricity was too much. It was an impressive feat, and, not to be outdone, Kanye paralleled the move by ascending high and mighty on his own platform, rising like King Kong climbing to the top of the Empire State Building.
Eventually the two kings of the court joined each-other on the same stage in front of a monstrous, billowy flag. They traded verses like brokers trade commodities. Then the flag that covered the main stage was hijacked upwards to reveal an onslaught of imagery only trumped by your own worst nightmare. Fires blazed throughout the night. Car crashes and war-ravaged towns set the backdrop on overhead screens, followed by the A-bomb Grand Finale. This was Defcon Level One entertainment.
'Best rapper alive you can ask about me' sang Jay. Why bother asking around? You know its true. And so does he. Jay-Z put on the usual impeccable performance. His smile was ever present- a kid in a candy store grin, crossed with that fox in a henhouse smirk.
In stark contrast, Kanye seemed dour. Kanye reminded me of Eminem's Detroit performance during his Anger Management III tour, as both artists share a similar stage persona- both seem scared- almost like they have stage fright. As the night progressed, Kanye's facial expressions transformed slightly as he morphed into a snarling beast, mimicking the teeth-baring predators on his t-shirt- his third costume change of the night. The search for the inner power animal must be on! because there was a major Wild Kingdom presence, not exclusive to Ye's shirt. Panthers, grizzlies, and hawks reared their heads on the giant screens that were incorporated into the visuals on stage during the performances as well.
There was one King who reigned supreme. Jay's performance continuously overshadowed that of his protégé. Kanye managed to gain momentum during certain songs, but he never maintained control for long. Jay came up from the shadows and turned it into an absolute monarchy.
Kanye tried to keep up the energy- at one point running back and forth across the expansive stage, which did lure the crowd into a frenzy. But, whenever Jay creeped back out- he stole the show.
Kanye is a lyrical mastermind; a creative genius. But tonight, it seems that the 'tortured artist' syndrome leaked into, and tainted, his performance- making it appear that singing his songs was torture.
But wait- Mr. West is in the building! So although his performance may be lacking compared to Jay's, who cares; nobody seemed to notice. The crowd still went Wild! And The Emporer has New Clothes!
He initially appeared wearing a t-shirt and skin-tight leggings, accompanied by a black couture leather pleated skirt. Were he still alive, Alexander McQueen would toss a nod in Kanye's direction. Kanye ascended the secondary stage in a secondary outfit change. He sported an orange leather jacket paired with a tartan-inspired lower ensemble. The third act was the aforementioned animal magnetism t-shirt worn with the black skirt again.
Shrill screaming erupted into bloody murda as they started 'Paris.' They went on a rampage and sang it again. And again. And again. It was performed, in its entirety- seven times. At the end of the final Whoa!, Kayne yelled a crowning 'We love this citaaaaay!' as The Throne exited The Palace, and all of the lights in the kingdom went on, extra bright.