Johnny Nunez, WireImage
With the house lights dimmed to black, they climbed atop their respective glowing cubes and commenced the show with the knocking track 'H.A.M.' There was 'Who Gon Stop Me,' 'Otis' -- with a massive American flag hanging as a backdrop -- and 'Welcome to the Jungle' followed. The throne was being watched by a sea of fans, who were waving their diamond-shaped hand signs, smoking greenery and chanting every lyric presented.
While 'Watch the Throne' tracks were a major part of the evening's festivities -- as was pyrotechnics -- both 'Ye and Hov grabbed from their bevy of hits and tugged at a range of emotions. There was satisfied grinning from the latter when he moved through 'Jigga What, Jigga Who,' his highly regarded collaboration with Yeezy, 'Izzo (H.O.V.A.)' and then he put the smile away and got down to business when lyrically speaking of his future child on 'New Day.'
Chi-town's king took the emotional route with 'Runaway,' and, while he was cloaked in a red light, his thoughts were blue. He encouraged the audience to "hold on real tight" to their loved ones, which these days he himself seems to have trouble keeping a hold on.
More hits flowed from both sides, among them 'Empire State of Mind,' 'Flashing Lights,' 'Big Pimpin'' into 'Gold Digger' -- the epitome of a big brother-little brother moment -- and 'N----s in Paris' three times.
New York City opened its arms wide for its hometown MC Jay-Z, who, at 41, exhibited why he's at the top of the rap food chain by expressing his gratitude towards supporters and dishing out fiery lines for them to eat, all in the same breath. Kanye West was embraced just as graciously, wearing a leather kilt and all.
However, the night's most poignant moment, welcomed and shared by hip-hop enthusiasts, were sentiments expressed by the elder rhymesman. "Can I get this entire arena to scream for Heavy D tonight?" Jay asked, in support of the veteran rapper who passed away hours earlier in a Los Angeles hospital. The response, as 'Ye chimed in with a softer chant of "Heavy D," was of booming applause and cheers.