“Watch The Throne” (That Is, If You Can Make It Through The Throng)
Our friends in Atlanta received one of the coveted invitations to the “Watch The Throne” listening party in New York, days before yesterday’s exclusive worldwide release on iTunes; which was also the date tickets for Jay-Z and Kanye West’s tour go on sale. In case you missed it, here’s a peak behind Jay-Z and Kanye’s curtain. Check out the review, trailer and glorious album art now.
Take in the experience for yourself…
The inferences were immediate.
Two superstars of hip-hop hosting a listening party at a planetarium.
Not just two superstars, mind you, but one who has more No. 1 albums (11) than [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Elvis Presley[/lastfm], and another who encites at least as much excitement when he opens a microphone as Elvis when he swiveled his hips.
And not just any planetarium, but the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. (The same city one of these said superstars has created a modern-day anthem for, “Empire State of Mind.”)
The only thing missing was[lastfm link_type="artist_info"] Jay-Z[/lastfm] yelling that line from his wife [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Beyonce[/lastfm]‘s “Crazy In Love” hit when you entered…
“History in the making!
So crazy right now!”
Wonerfully enough though, the soundtrack of the beginning of the listening party for the Jay-Z and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Kanye West [/lastfm]collaboration “Watch The Throne” was classic soul. [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]The O’Jays[/lastfm], [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes[/lastfm] and [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Nina Simone[/lastfm] played as hundreds were served Armand de Brignac champagne (or as Jay-Z refers to it in song,”that gold bottle,” Ace of Spades), mini lobster rolls, truffle macaroni and cheese squares and sweet potato crepes with carmelized pecans.
It was such a great start.
Then the same uniformed staff serving up the champagne and sweet potato crepes started whispering to the pockets of people scattererd around the Willamette Meteorite that “the presentation” was happening at 7:30, and the guests should make their way to the stairs or glass elevator.
And seemingly as soon as people started heading up the staircase, security stopped them from going up. Then the crowd was redirected to the elevator bank, where only one of three was operating. Then once the still relatively-relaxed crowd made it to the entrance of the theater, everyone STILL wasn’t allowed in. Many were stopped, again, in front of four closed silver doors with security personnal standing in front of them.
Word was that they had to make sure “the V.V.I.P.” were seated before the mass attired in everything from tennis shoes and shorts to heels and suits were admitted.
Busta Rymes had to push his way through. Then members of West’s Island Def Jam Record label. And yes, even West himself.
More minutes passed and finally the security announced that the just under 500-capacity venue was full, and those outside the silver doors would have to wait until the next “presentation” in an hour.
So back to the open bars the remainder went.
And if there was any consolation in having to wait three hours to finally hear an album, it might have been that standing in the front of the line for the last session was none other than Jay-Z’s sister-in-law, Solange.
It might have been that once inside, in the roped-off V.V.I.P area, was Gayle King.
(Hey – if Oprah’s best friend was in this number…)
But in the end, probably the best thing about finally getting to hear “Watch The Throne” was “the presentation” of “Watch The Throne.”
With all of the lights off, and all of the phones confiscated upon your arrival, all of the focus was on the ceiling, where stars and planets streaked, flickered and zoomed in illustration of the stadium-sized, barely-commercial, occasionally-fantastic, heavily-synthetic, percussive rhythm of “Watch The Throne.”
No one introduced it. No on offered the song titles for it. It just played start to finish. From “No Church in the Wild” (featuring Frank Ocean) to “I Love You So” (featuring Mr. Hudson and a wickedly sped-up sample of Gladys Knight & The Pips’ “I Feel A Song In My Heart.”)
From Jay-Z citing the simplistic “‘Racks’ on ‘Racks’ ” to making a case for “a celebration of black excellence.”
From the compellingly gutteral West (“That’s My [Expletive]“) to the compellingly vulnerable West.
Then the lights came up. There was mild applause. And the finale – perhaps the strangest occurrence of an often-peculiar night: Kanye West got up and basically had nothing to say; except “Thank You.”
Watch the trailer now:
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