Jay-Z tilts back his head. "You are now rockin' with the best," he declares. From the looks of things, his partner in rhyme, Kanye West, agrees. Indeed, this isn't some half-baked project courtesy of a couple of money-making, gold-wearing, egotistical giants of hip hop. This is an extravaganza -- a dazzling and, at times, breathtaking spectacle courtesy of hip hop's finest.
Who, by the way, make a lot of money. And wear a lot of gold. Oh, and the Yeezy fella (Kanye -- celebrating his birthday in Dublin) could fill out an arena with just his ego.
But isn't he a marvel to watch? From where I'm standing, this might very well be the Second Coming. With lasers. And flashing lights. Oh, and I haven't even mentioned the podiums yet. There are two of them (one for Kanye and his head, the other for Jay-Z and his swagger). They aren't just for performing atop. They're screens, too. And let's not forget the reason we're here in the first place.
After all, last year's Watch the Throne album was far from just an excuse to get these two masterminds in the same room. It's a thrilling piece of work; its stand-out tunes (Otis, No Church in the Wild) providing frequent moments of magic in this most impressive of arena showcases.
Hell, Ni**as in Paris is played four times, and not once do we tire of its ability to rock the place. Production-wise, this is an outstanding venture in live entertainment, complete with stunning stage design and first-class camera work.
It's a collaborative effort, and nothing beats the sight or sound of these two rock stars of rap going toe-to-toe, be it on separate podiums, together under a giant American flag, or just bouncing to the sound of the early days (Gold Digger, Hard Knock Life). Yep, this is the big league. And they make it look easy.
But when one of them takes a break, well, let's just say that this is three concerts in one. Jay keeps it simple; diamonds in the air, beats pumping, hits flying (Dirt off Your Shoulder, Empire State of Mind). And it's incredible stuff. West, on the other hand, makes full use of the visuals and brings us to the future (Stronger, Runaway). And it's magnificent. Rockin' with the best? You're damn right, Jay.