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Review – Watch The Throne (London)

This weekend, the UK finally got to witness the most highly anticipated tour of the year – ‘Watch The Throne’. The concepts for the show were clear; minimalism, sharp visuals and pure quality were key on what Jay-Z called this “glorious occasion.” Kicking off their minimalistic approach, the show did not feature any supporting acts. We saw the pair grace the stage clad in “all black everything” at 8.30pm, starting off with ‘H.A.M’.

The rappers started off standing on two different platforms a fair distance opposite each other, which then elevated them above the audience. They went on to perform ‘Who Gon’ Stop Me’ and ‘Otis’ together on the main stage, which displayed a huge American flag.

Visuals throughout the show absolutely reeked of Kanye. As the friends performed ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, we saw wild animals attacking their prey on the big screen, an obvious reference to the one thing that was made clear at this occasion – they are the Kings of the rap jungle.

The show was primarily a showcase of the ‘Watch The Throne’ LP, however it could have also been classed as a Greatest Hits tour, as the Jay-Z and Kanye both performed their own sets.

Rap peers should bring pen and paper when viewing the show as many of them could learn something from the Roc Nation businessmen; the rappers both managed to project their characters and charisma to the audience in an overwhelming manner.

Jigga kicked the solo sessions off with ‘Where I’m From’ and ‘Jigga What, Jigga Who’. A professional performer, the 42-year-old put on a polished, controlled performance, with his reserved energy giving him the superiority of a big brother to ‘Ye.

On the other hand, Kanye was snarling, screeching and rapping on his knees at points of the show, giving us a raw performance that you could feel across the dome. Although they both had a strong solo playlist, Kanye prevailed in his showcase of his contribution to pop culture as he performed tracks such as ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’, ‘Flashing Lights’ and ‘All Falls Down’.

The Chi-town rapper also revealed his inner-diva during his performance, cutting a track off and reloading it as he wasn’t happy with the camera man’s angles, correcting him before telling him “I know what I’m doing. Sorry London, I want you to have the best show.”

Catering across the board, Jay-Z made the rap fiends happy as he performed hip-hop classics such as ‘I Just Wanna Love You’ ‘Big Pimpin’’ ’99 Problems’ ‘On To The Next One’ and more. Kanye made the ladies smile with a quick set from his ‘808’s and Heartbreak’ album, which saw him perform ‘Heartless’ and ‘Runaway’. It ended with the 34-year-old looking pretty emotional as he sang “If I told you I don’t like the way your hair looks tonight, don’t listen to me baby, cause I’m an asshole…”

A powerful moment came when Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’ blared through the speakers as images of riots, the KKK and general destruction were displayed. The rappers kept their backs to us, watching the images themselves and letting us soak up the unspoken statement on the irony of America’s patriotism as ‘No Church In The Wild’ began.

Of course, the encore couldn’t have been anything else but ‘N****s In Paris’.  The pair reloaded the track 5 times, although the audience probably would have been happy to hear it 10 times.

The pair graced the stage for over two hours and I was pleased to see that they seemed to have put their blood, sweat and tears into it; there was a preconception that because of how high-profile they are, this might not be the case.

Overall, Jay and ‘Ye gave us a phenomenal exhibition showing us why they have dominated the music scene over the past 10 years, performing more hits than I can name. They successfully gave us a clear insight into their world, letting us feel their potent power and their strong connection to not only each other, but their audience.

As the concert ended, Yeezy said “If this was your first concert, it is all downhill from here.” For once I would have to agree that this isn’t his ego talking, it’s the truth.

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Music Work

Review – Drake at the o2

YMCMB’s Drizzy Drake touched down in London for his second show in a row at the o2 arena in Greenwich last night, where he performed to around 18,000 people…

Supporting the emo-rapper was Labrinth. The Hackney-born artist delivered a smooth, futuristic set to compliment his debut album, ‘Electronic Earth’.

Looking suave and supported by great visuals, the singer was received well as he performed his hits ‘Let The Sunshine’ and ‘Last Time’, the latter certainly being the best song of his set, with the Quincy inspired sounds sounding indulgently rich. However, it was when the super producer performed his smash hit ‘Earthquake’ that the crowd went really nuts for the 22-year-old, thus kicking in our adrenaline for the headliner himself.

As Drake hit the stage dressed simply in black, kicking off the show with ‘Lord Knows’, which may seem as a surprising choice of introduction given that he seldom records heavy hip hop sounds.

Drake has kick-started a transition in rap, introducing a more emotive, humble approach to rhyming that has actually been embraced by hip hop. What was evident from the show is that the Toronto artist is midway through a transition of his own.

Taking a Jekyll and Hyde approach on stage, the 25-year-old frequently switched up the contrast from the emotional, love obsessed, brooding character to the arrogant persona that we have been seeing more frequently since his status rose so phenomenally.

Whilst performing ‘Take Care’, he danced around the stage as if he couldn’t believe he was actually living his dream. However, soon after, he stood emotionless in the middle of the stage, hands open and taking in the applause like an alcoholic does wine.

Being the emotionally open character he is, he makes no apologies for the way fame has affected him, in fact it only went in his favour, giving him an edge of realness that sometimes lacks in popular music today.

This allowed him to effortlessly blend tracks from ‘Best I Ever Had’, ‘Practise’, ‘Shot 4 Me’ to more rugged sounds like ‘Stay Schemin’ and ‘I’m Goin’ In’.

Highlights were ‘The Motto’, ‘Take Care’ and ‘Crew Love’, notably being some of the fans favourites.

Drizzy took (perhaps a bit too much) time shouting out audience members, including the ones “in the glasses who can’t see a mother f***ing thang!” The set in itself seemed rather rushed, pushed by Drake’s own adrenaline perhaps. The Young Money artist has not had years of experience connecting to such as large audience, which showed as he didn’t keep the audience captivated consistently throughout the show.

The show seemed to end quicker than I would have liked, but I assumed that this was because time flies when you’re having fun. But was I in Club Paradise? Very nearly.

After his final London show, Drizzy went down to West London’s club ‘The Low’, where he relaxed and partied with his buddies, including Rihanna.