Jay-Z and Kanye West at Staples Center Last Night
See also: "Niggas in Paris": Jay-Z and Kanye Set a New Record, Which We Pretty Much Predicted
Jay-Z and Kanye West
December 11, 2011
From the Givenchy-designed gold cover to lyrics dripping with foreign luxury brand references like "Hublot" and "Margiela" to the video in which they chop up a $350,000 Maybach for giggles, Jay-Z and Kanye West's album Watch The Throne raised plenty of eyebrows when it was released in August. The effort revealed the rappers to be floating in the 1 percent in a year when most of the country finally realized it had sunk to the lower class.
With the cheapest tickets at $100 and some floor seats jacked to $600 on scalper sites, the sold-out Staples Center was full of those who somehow have disposable income right before the holidays. No, The Throne probably didn't unite rich and poor last night, but those grumbles about their being out of touch were premature. Though the duo may be old money at this point, Jay and Kanye haven't forgotten the value of a fan's dollar, nor what those fans pay those dollars to see. At a little over two hours, the show gave 'em their money's worth.
How do you know Jay and 'Ye have reached the upper echelons of wealth? Everything, down to the zinc oxide used to paint on Kanye's tribal forearm tattoos, must be expensive, but nothing screams its pricetag. The show began with grandiose operatic strains while the rappers rose on two cubes designed with light installations and video projections (doves soared, Rottweilers snarled, sharks grinned menacingly) that likely are the work of some newly, hotly celebrated artist.
Both wore all black, presumably by Givenchy: simple t-shirts, with cargo pants for Jay and a leather leggings and kilt combo for Kanye. The silk American flag bandana hanging from Jay-Z's back pocket probably cost more than my entire wardrobe.
Segueing into "H•A•M," the two rappers were spotlighted by a laser show, again designed with precision and restraint. The music fell away, and Jay finished his verse a cappella. Who invented swag? The definitive answer is Jay-Z, and as the godfather of such, he effortlessly owned the show.