'Watch the Throne' takes a detour as Kanye shows Jay-Z Chicago's South Side

December 15, 2011

I like the above video that's making the rounds these days. It shows Chicago-born Kanye West visiting his old haunts with Jay-Z.

Titled The Chi, the video comes from VOYR.com, a site which has behind-the-scenes footage of Ye and Jigga's Watch the Throne tour. The clip shows the two entertainers cruising through a city captured in in crisp black-and-white photography. There are some good nighttime shots of Randolph Street corridor, with the Prudential, Aon, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield buildings. But 79th Street is also represented, showcasing the modernist Pride Cleaners at St. Lawrence Avenue and the Moorish-inspired New Regal Theater just east of South Chicago Avenue.

Kanye even takes Jay-Z to his childhood home in South Shore. The home is boarded up. He also shows Vanderpoel School in the Beverly neighborhood.

The clip once again shows hip-hop's uncanny ability to not only capture, document and celebrate the voice of the streets, but, increasingly, the very streets themselves. Architecture, place and space are as integral to hip-hop and rap videos as are the rumpshakers, especially when it comes to Chicago--and particularly Kanye, whose direction of the music video for Common's 2005 hit The Corner is nothing less than stunning: