I watched the Throne (the name that Kanye West and Jay-Z decided to anoint themselves after dropping the album of the same name) last night at the Verizon Center. What a show. The energy was on a hundred, thousand, trillion the whole night. I’d wager that about 90 percent of the crowd stayed on their feet for the entire two-plus hours long show. I know I did.
I suppose it’s not surprising given the catalogs of both Kanye West and Jay-Z. Jay reached as far back as “Where I’m From,” off of 1997’s In My Lifetime, Volume 1. Kanye gave us another energetic rendition of “Jesus Walks” from his seminal 2003 debut album, The College Dropout. Between the two of them, they have enough songs to do a four-hour show with no slowing down. And boy did they give us a lot.
While I was watching the Throne though, I made a lot of observations that I’m sure might miss a regular review of the show. So I figured I’d share them since sharing is caring. Right?
And Panama loves the kids.
So here’s 10 observations about “Watch the Throne” from the cheap seats:
1. Kanye and Jay-Z just might be damn near recession proof. While the Verizon Center wasn’t completely sold out (there were definitely a few seats near me that weren’t filled, but that could be because folks were too busy standing around buying $8 Bud Lites), that place was jam packed full of people swaying and moving to the old Jig rhythms. And considering that ticket prices ranged from $60 to $250 (more like $70 to $275 when you tacked on fees), they made a killing. If Obama was there last night, I’m guessing his new fiscal policy strategy would be to hold a Rapapalooza concert (an idea one of my boys conceived of to save a still floundering Morris Brown College in 2002) to get the nation out of debt. Folks might not be eating, but they’ll spend beaucoup dough on some Jay and Kanye tickets. That’s a pun.
2. Jay and ‘Ye, diversity is thine oyster. There were people of all stripes in that arena last night. Black, white, Asian, Latino, green, polka dot. In fact, I’m sure I saw a one-eyed, one-armed flying purple people eater. And he knew all the words to “N---s In Paris.” It’s further proof that if race relations are going to get better in this country, it just might have to start at a hip-hop concert. Or maybe Coldplay, to pull the soccer moms.
3. While I know that some people like the song, I’m going to go ahead and say that the people voted with their feet when “Made In America” (off the Watch The Throne album) came on. My entire section took a bathroom and drink break when it started. I walked into the hallway and it felt like somebody yelled out ‘free money’. Hallways were packed. I myself thought it better to head to the restroom than sit through a recording of Frank Ocean singing “sweet baby Jesus” over and over.
4. Back to the diversity thing, not only was there racial diversity, there were people coming from work in suits and dresses with their ID badges still on and folks who looked like they might rob you as soon as the concert was over. Sitting right next to each other. It was like an Occupy Wall Street smoke break. I don’t care what anybody says, that’s the kind of equality that even Dr. Martin Luther the King could be proud of.
5. I think I saw every last pair of Jordans ever issued (and a few that never came out: shame on you people for rocking faux knockoffs) at this concert. I also saw odd random shoes and insanely creative color ways. It was like walking into a shoe museum full of people who spend loads of money on shoes that nobody else has yet to ensure that other people point and gawk.
6. I think skinny jeans are on the way out. If there was one place I expected to see a bunch of dudes who couldn’t breathe, it was at that concert since Kanye is like the patron saint of questionable fashion (he himself had on leather pants and a kilt for much of the show). But alas, I didn’t really notice an overwhelming preponderance of men who seemed to be rocking jeggings. Praise Elohim.
7. Jay seemed to be having a lot more fun than Kanye. Not that Kanye wasn’t enjoying himself, clearly he was, but Jay seemed to be in that “feels good to be here” spot all night. Kanye was all focus. That’s one tense brotha.
8. Jay might have been more happy because he’s about to be a pappy, too. During the line where he says: “I got the flyest chick in the game wearing my chain” in the song “P.S.A.” he made a baby-bump motion as a nod to his pregnant wife, Beyonce. Can’t lie, I’m really happy for those two like I know them.
9. They did “N---s In Paris” three times. I love that song but that was overkill. Can’t lie though, I sang along each time. There was also something about seeing “That *bleep* cray” written out on a jumbotron that was inherently funny. If I had a vote for saying of the year, it would absolutely be “that *bleep* cray.”
10. The show paid for itself 30 minutes in. Without a doubt. I almost didn’t go but realized that I’d hate to be that person who wasn’t at the show and then regretted it later.
Panama Jackson is a co-founder of VerySmartBrothas.com and co-author of “Your Degrees Won't Keep You Warm At Night: The Very Smart Brothas Guide To Dating, Mating, and Fighting Crime.” He believes the children are our future and likes really long book titles. He is Malcolm X, too. Follow him on Twitter: @panamajackson