Jay-Z and Kanye West nothing less than epic in Vancouver

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      At Rogers Arena on Saturday, December 17

      Since they first teamed up for “This Can’t Be Life” in 2000, Kanye West and Shawn Carter have formed pop music’s most fascinating pairing, their relationship fired by equal parts collaboration and competition. West got his break making beats for Carter (aka Jay-Z), and then went on to become a bigger solo star, subverting the master-pupil dynamic not by becoming a better rapper than his idol, but by being a better musician, proving that nerds can beat out street guys if they try hard enough.

      Where Jay’s a virtuoso, Kanye’s a high-flown conceptualist; he’s the Warhol to Hova’s Rembrandt. Which one you prefer says more than just how you feel about rap music; it tells us whether you like art to be subtle and refined, or flamboyant and provocative.

      Whatever their fancy, a full house of Vancouver’s young and beautiful received their money’s worth and more from these titans, who delivered the best arena concert this city has seen in years. Part combatants, part compatriots, the New Yorker (Jay-Z) and the Chicagoan (West) stood on rival platforms to begin the show, trading verses from songs off their first full-length collaboration, this year’s Watch the Throne. They took to the same stage for that album’s “Welcome to the Jungle”, a kind of warning shot to every other rapper alive that concluded with the rather chilling image of the two men staring in admiration at the big screen, which flashed footage of two cheetahs chasing down and devouring an antelope.

      That image of Jay and ‘Ye as undefeatable predators recurred throughout the night, the Americans performing song after song against a video montage of sharks, Rottweilers, grizzly bears, and too many wild cats to mention. West’s outfit emphasized the warrior theme, his muumuu-size T-shirt bearing silkscreened fangs and whiskers superimposed over an image of his face, the shirt hanging over a black-leather kilt, which in turn hung over black-leather trousers.

      Jay-Z, meanwhile, was his usual composed self, pulling his trademark Yankees cap low as he skimmed the surface of his vast catalogue of hits. The show was organized as a kind of relay race, one rapper taking the baton for a brief suite of songs before handing it to the other, tracks on which they’ve both appeared (like “Monster”, “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”, and “Run This Town”) serving as lap markers.

      Hits aside, it was the subtle moments that stood out—like Kanye delivering a Lady Gaga–like inspirational sermon (“Be awesome,” he exhorted us); the expectant father Jay addressing his unborn child on “New Day” while Kanye rapped along off-mic; Kanye singing Bon Iver’s part on “Lost in the World”; Kanye shouting instructions to a camera operator (“Keep that shit moving!”); Jay-Z grinning madly throughout.

      Things ended as they have elsewhere on this tour, with the two MCs trotting out the gargantuan “Niggas in Paris” several times in a row, rewinding the track selector-style after West’s cathartic “Hah” at mid-song. It was the kind of indulgence that royalty allows itself, but one that hits home for anyone who’s ever listened to a tune they love, then repeated it, again and again, until it becomes a kind of mantra. It’s hard to imagine meditating to “Niggas in Paris”, but if bliss is what you’re after, it might be worth a try.




      Dec 18, 2011 at 8:38am

      I had to say something, before I choke. What a bunch of crap. 'Epic proportions..?' Rap is not even music, and West is not a musician, improved or otherwise. He's barely human, as demonstrated by his attack on Taylor Swift. ( there's a class act ) It baffles me why people continued to buy and support this idiot after that event alone! And this writer, whoever he is, is surprised these losers are fascinated by a violent video? C'mon young people, if you are trying to put a stamp on your generation's music, put a little effort into it..

      Darren Smith

      Dec 18, 2011 at 9:27am

      Who are Jay-Z and Kanye West? The music scene in the US is so different from where I live that they may as well be from Uzbekistan.


      Dec 18, 2011 at 9:45am

      @warren Sir, you are a prime example of ignorance. If you haven't noticed times have changed. Kanye West an incredible ARTIST. The Watch the Throne tour sets the standard for concerts in all genres of music. You cannot argue that Kanye and Jay-Z are not one of the most successful human beings on this Earth. They have great success and tons of influence on mainstream media. You are ignorant to say rap isn't music. Kanye West is a producer, rapper, song writers, singer, video producer, designer and much more. Look deeper into the lyrics and the music. Look deeper into the tour and his past. Next time do some research before you take blind shots.


      Dec 18, 2011 at 10:38am

      Wow Warren I feel sorry for you to have such a closed mind when it comes to music. Just go back to listening yo tour swift and bieber and leave the real music for everyone else.


      Dec 18, 2011 at 10:40am

      Sounds like quite a show, did warren even see the show? He sounds bitter ! Get a life warren. I don't listen to any rap, but lots of kids do. warren should try plugging his kinda tunes before he sh..ts on other people thing.


      Dec 18, 2011 at 11:26am

      Well said Joe.


      Dec 18, 2011 at 11:39am

      i am a 70 year old and i poop in diapers

      yo yo yo

      Dec 18, 2011 at 12:02pm

      yo yo yo yo my foot


      Dec 18, 2011 at 3:10pm

      I love me some JB!


      Dec 18, 2011 at 4:26pm

      Can I ask if anyone was at the show last night, and if so, what time did they actually take the stage? Going tonight!