Widgets Magazine

Jay-Z and Kanye: Kings of rap rule in San Jose

(ISAAC HALYARD/The Stanford Daily)

“That shit cray.”


In the mere weeks after Jay-Z and Kanye West dropped their collaborative album, “Watch the Throne”, this phrase from the song “N****s in Paris” had already attained one-liner fame.  It also seems to be an accurate representation of their “Watch the Throne” tour performances.


Their “Watch the Throne” tour stopped at the HP Pavilion in San Jose on Wednesday.  In a little over two hours, the duo put on a show that redefined the word “energy”.


The show started on time.  Considering the fact that the date was changed from Dec. 10 to Dec. 14 within two weeks of the concert, and the original start time was pushed back from 7:30 to 9:00, it was a feat in itself that the concert began at its newly scheduled time.


(ISAAC HALYARD/The Stanford Daily)

On two stages, the rap behemoths entered the stadium – Kanye on the massive main stage, and Jay-Z on a smaller platform in the middle of the crowd. Launching directly into hits from “Watch the Throne” such as “H.A.M”, “Who Gon Stop Me” and “Otis”, the duo electrified the crowd.


The awe-inspiring staging and effects of the performance increased the pounding of powerful song after powerful song.  Surprisingly, bright lasers crisscrossed the air and even created holographic shapes around the rappers.  The stages they were standing on suddenly began to rise, and in their highest position proved to be large, well-lit cubes of color changing light.  Strobes flashed on varying beats, enormous video screens played everything from historical American footage to close-ups of Rottweilers barking, while large fountains of fire would intermittingly spit geysers of flame into the air.  Not to mention the sound system, which provided bass loud enough to chatter teeth.


Despite the grandeur of these effects, the true defining glory of the show was the incredible set-list. They played an abundance of songs from “Watch the Throne”, however they interlaced these songs with some of their individual tracks.  And not just any tracks, either.  They played huge hits including “Jesus Walks”, “Good Life”, “99 Problems” and “Big Pimpin’” just to name a few.  In total, they played over 30 of what are accepted as their best songs.


There was another element to the performance that was a little harder to pinpoint.  However, it came down to an idea only to be described with one word – swag.  After naming their album “Watch the Throne”, it was clear that the rappers considered themselves the best in the game.  They established this idea with full force on stage.  While remaining incredibly driven and focused in their performance, they emoted a pure sense of cool as they knocked out massive hit after massive hit, reassuring listeners that they truly were the best.


They brought listeners back with tracks that were over 10 years old, recapping their careers in all their glory.  To establish their presence even further, they closed with their smash hit “N****s in Paris.”  Then they played it again.  When the crowd screamed for an encore, the duo came back on and played the song for a third time.


At times it even felt like a tribute concert.  Perhaps it was a tribute concert – a tribute concert to themselves.  It may sound outrageous, but given their superb performance, it seems wrong to have it any other way.


(ISAAC HALYARD/The Stanford Daily)

Jay-Z and Kanye may be busy watching the throne of the rap game.  After this tour however, they shouldn’t worry too much.  For the time being, the throne is theirs.