Note: While Iknow there is controversy on the use of the word “nigga,” I have chosen towrite the actual word instead of saying “the n-word” or using hash marks orasterisks in place of the “igga,” as the word “nigga” was what was used throughout the show.
It’s a new year, but I have one more review I wanted toshare before we were too deep into 2012.
In 2011, I attended so many great shows – Jill Scott, Anthony Hamiliton and Ledisi (saw all three twice), Eric Roberson, Vivian Green andof course Sade – so it’s only appropriate I would conclude the year witnessingtwo of hip-hop’s best come together to claim their throne.
I had been highly anticipating this concert as soon as itwas announced. Having never seen Kanye, I was excited because I knew he gave his all on stage. This would be my third time seeing Jay Z, so I knew I was in for one hell of a show.
“You are now watching the throne/don’t let me get in myzone.” This simple line from the song Niggas In Paris is a great way to sum up the Watch the Throne tour. Jay Z and Kanye– teacher and student –performed two-plus hours of their hits, and the show was afabulous reminder of why I paid more than $100 to get in their zone.
I started off in their zone well before the concert – a fewweeks to be exact. As a general rule, I do not look at the set list of a showbecause I love the anticipation of what’s going to be performed. For this tour,however, I couldn’t bring myself to not know.
The reason? I needed to learn the words to as many songs aspossible. Turns out, it’s quite challenging memorizing the words of 30-plus songs ina few days. I had every intention on learning a song a day, but life happenedand I spent the night before and the day of the concert cramming lyric afterlyric in my head.
I eventually gave up and focused on “my” songs, whichincluded Kanye’s Power, Stronger and Good Life, and Jay’s EmpireState of Mind, 99 Problems and Dirt Off Your Shoulder.
While I somewhat knew what to expect from the show (a friendof mine told me about her Chicago experience, and I did read a few reviews),hearing and reading about the Watch the Throne tour didn’t fully prepare me for what I was to witness the night of Dec. 13, 2011.
From my nosebleed seats (which I was not happy about, butwith ticket prices for floor seats double what I paid, I had to settle for whatI could afford), I felt the energy coming from the megastars as they werelifted up, in the dark, on separate cubes (with Jay Z in the middle of thearena, while Kanye rose in front of the stage) during the opening of H*A*M. From H*A*M they went into Who GonStop Me and three other songs from their Watch the Throne collaboration.
Alone on the stage, Jay Z launched into Nigga What, Nigga Who; afterwards, the lights were literallyflashing during Kanye’s Flashing Lights;the Jesus Walks’ performance broughtKanye to his knees, while the diamonds were in the air during Diamonds From Sierra Leone.
Alternating back and forth, they traded the stage and cubes,and flowed from one song to the next with ease. Kanye joined Jay Z during Hard Knock Life and left him during Empire State of Mind.
It was lights, lights and more lights. It was dark at theappropriate times (Kanye’s Runawayperformance would have felt different if there wasn’t dark). The images shownduring various songs (Made In America,No Church in the Wild) gave the songs great visual appeal.
Speaking of lights, my favorite moment occurred when thebeat for All of the Lights startedand Kanye promptly stopped the song and delivered the following message: “Blackpeople, we are going to give them a pass this one time,” referring to the firstline of the song which states, “Something wrong/I hold my head/MJ gone/ournigga dead!”
Between Made inAmerica and New Day, Kanye had aheartfelt moment when he spoke of the difficulties he’s faced the past fewyears and how he contemplated suicide. He went on to say that he was surrounded by peoplewho brought him back from the ledge. You could tell it was genuine and Kanyewas grateful for being alive, despite his many challenges.
I was surprised he performed the radio version of Gold Digger (taking “nigga” out of the chorus). While the majority of the crowd was not black, I found it odd he chose to do this seeing as though he didn’t remove nigga from the rest of the songs he performed.
Having the set list in advance, I knew the encore was Niggas In Paris. I also knew, throughreviews and my previously mentioned friend, that the song would be done overand over and over again. According to my friend, they repeated the song eighttimes in Chicago.
Well, San Jose only had three encores. I could speculate as to whywe weren’t privileged to be among those who had encore after encore after encore, but it won’t change our encore count.
Jay Z and Kanye succeeded in making the thousands uponthousands throw up the diamond time and time again. They succeeded in keepingme on my feet the entire show, and as I posted on FaceBook, they succeeded inmaking me go H*A*M (Hard as a muthaf*****) the majority of the evening.
When you have a set list that contains more than 30 songs, you shouldanticipate leaving the show voiceless and tired. I was still feeling theeffects of being in the zone the next day! I couldn’t get that song out of myhead!
One more thing: While Jay wore his standard jeans andT-shirt, Kanye wore what appeared to be black leather leggings and kilt, with a T-shirt. It was, to say the least, an interesting get up.
Concert setlist: H*A*M.,Who Gon Stop Me, Otis, Welcome to the Jungle, Gotta Have It, Where I’m From,Nigga What? Nigga Who?, Can’t Tell Me Nothing, Flashing Lights, Jesus Walks,All Falls Down, Diamonds from Sierra Leone, Public Service Announcement , UDon’t Know, Run This Town, Monster, Power, Made in America, New Day, Hard KnockLife, Izzo (H.O.V.A.), Empire State of Mind, Runaway, Heartless, Stronger, On to the Next One, Dirt Off Your Shoulders, I Just Wanna Love You (Give It Me),That’s My Bitch, Good Life, Touch the Sky, All of the Lights, Big Pimpin’, Gold Digger, 99 Problems, No Church in the Wild, Lift Off, Niggas in Paris