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MTV 2011 VMAs: What you didn't see on TV

The 2011 MTV Video Music Awards are in the books, and while the show as a whole felt a little scattered and unfocused, there were indeed some high points. Russell Brand, Tony Bennett, and Bruno Mars gave Amy Winehouse an excellent tribute, Beyoncé capped off a great performance with a nice little revelation about the future of her family, and Adele tore down the house with her stunning, jaw-dropping run through “Someone Like You.”

But there were a handful of amazing moments that happened between MTV’s rapid-fire camera cuts and commercial breaks. Luckily, I was inside the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live and can report the eight greatest things you probably missed during the show. READ FULL STORY

MTV 2011 VMAs: Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Adele big winners

Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Adele all won multiple Moon Men at the MTV 2011 Video Music Awards. Perry’s “Firework” won for Video of the Year, and she also took home a trophy with Kanye West for Best Collaboration for their sci-fi fantasia “E.T.” Perry harkened back to a previous VMAs show in her acceptance speech when she told her co-winner, “Now this is the time when you want to interrupt me, Kanye!” Lady Gaga — who spent the entire night dressed as her male alter ego, Jo Calderone — won Best Female and Best Video with a Message. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” meanwhile, took home multiple behind-the-scenes awards for editing, art direction, and cinematography.

Other winners included Britney Spears (who also took home the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award), Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Foo Fighters, and Tyler, The Creator. Check out a full list below:

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Jay-Z and Kanye West making surprise VMA performance? They probably should have advertised that

Considering he has made the show so memorable in the past two years, and he also has an extremely high-profile album out and a tour to promote, it seemed a little bit strange that Kanye West’s name wasn’t on the guest list for tonight’s MTV Video Music Awards. But according to one report, West will be making a surprise appearance on stage with his Watch the Throne tag-team partner Jay-Z for a performance.

According to E!, the duo’s appearance has been kept deep under wraps (their seat-saving placards were missing during rehearsals this week), and according to those connected to the show, the slot was still up in the air (though some speculated that they could end up closing the show). READ FULL STORY

Kanye West and Jay-Z's 'Watch the Throne' breaks Coldplay's first week sales record, debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200 chart

Our critic may not have felt the vibes on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne album. But with a record breaking iTunes debut and the top spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart, it appears many did.

The twosome’s collection, one that West refers to as “luxury rap,” broke Coldplay’s iTunes first-week sales record, moving almost 290,000 digital copies. Coldplay’s Viva La Vida Or Death and All His Friends sold 282,000 in 2008.

Within 24 hours of Throne dropping on Aug. 8, it was No. 1 on iTunes worldwide in 23 countries. And today, Billboard reports that Throne‘s complete opening sales (meaning both the digital and physical version, which bowed Aug. 12) is a kingly 436,078 units, making it no. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

It’s a huge victory for the two, who didn’t promote the album in traditional fashion. Really, they hardly promoted it at all. Outside of two press listening sessions (I attended one) and one New York radio interview, Jay and Kanye kept quiet. There wasn’t magazine cover or even a music video released before the album.

Still, the buzz behind the project was huge. And apparently, fans have not been disappointed.

Did you buy Watch the Throne? Glad it opened with these numbers? Let us know.

More on EW.com:
Jay-Z and Kanye West release ‘Watch the Throne’ ‘Otis’ video — Everybody’s all-American! Watch it here
Independent record stores protest Jay-Z and Kanye’s album-release shutout


Jay-Z and Kanye West release 'Watch the Throne' 'Otis' video -- Everybody's all-American! Watch it here

Jay and Ye’s game of Throne has pretty much owned the pop-culture conversation this week—I’m obsessed with “Why I Love You” and “That’s My B****,” my colleague heartily disagrees—and now hip-hop’s wonder twins have capped it off with an official Spike Jonze-directed clip for the album’s first single, “Otis.”

As bombastic as their pairing already is, they don’t double down on platinum video tricks here; it’s just three minutes of our boys gone Casual-Mogul Friday in jeans and crest-embossed white tees, racing stripped-down cars (not Yeezy’s other other Benz) and dropping verses in front of a giant American flag in a dusty backlot.

Minimal models, no bottles, no problem—spend it on pyro! They look like they’re kind of loving it, and I’m happy too. Watch it here: READ FULL STORY

Kanye West and Jay-Z's 'Watch the Throne': Read the EW review

Yesterday, as you may have heard, Jay-Z and Kanye West (also known as “The Throne”) dropped their full-length collaboration, Watch the Throne.

It’s available exclusively on iTunes—where it has already taken the no. 1 spot in 23 countries—with a physical copy due in Best Buy stores this Friday, August 12. Below, see the full review of the album, which will also appear in the issue of EW hitting newsstands this Friday.

The Throne
Watch the Throne
(Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam/ Roc Nation)

On their first full-length collaboration, topline superstars Jay-Z and Kanye West choose to hide behind the sobriquet “The Throne.” But why? Do they love professional wrestling and think their tag team needs a badass name for the ring? Are they hoping to snag spots as direwolves on Game of Thrones? Or do they simply want to temper the heightened expectations that tend to saddle supergroups?

The latter seems like a distinct possibility. Too much of Watch the Throne sounds cluttered and disjointed, as though Jay and ‘Ye built their garish castle in the sky via FedEx and text messages. “Welcome to the Jungle” offers a lot of bluster but little heart, and “N—-s in Paris” seems to be the result of the ritual torturing of an Atari 2600. Everything falls apart on the album-closing “Why I Love You,” which cranks up West’s love of prog-rock bombast so much that it sounds like guest crooner Mr Hudson is trying to sing the hook over a poorly recorded bootleg of a Muse concert.

But Throne is certainly no disaster. “Otis,” on which the pair exchange breathless verses about their rags-to-riches elevation from street-corner slinging to private jets, revels in the cleverly sampled sweat and soul of Otis Redding’s 1966 classic “Try a Little Tenderness.” “Lift Off” nearly suffocates amid baroque strings and self-importance, but is rescued by Beyoncé, who whips the chorus with a belt so powerful you’d think it insulted her mother. The album’s centerpiece, “New Day,” finds guest the RZA laying down a busy, warm beat that gives the duo the freedom to write love letters to their unborn children, with West speculating about his future son, “I mean I might even make him be Republican/So everybody know he love white people.”

In fact, the greatness of “New Day” drives home the album’s big problem: It feels too much like a Kanye West project featuring a clutch of Jay-Z cameos. They sound like they’re on the same page only during fleeting moments, and when those slip by, listening inevitably is more frustrating than fulfilling. Then again, neither Kanye nor Jay should worry too much, right? After all, this misstep officially belongs to “The Throne.” B-


Read more on EW.com:
Kanye West drops ‘Watch the Throne,’ but not before comparing himself to Hitler
Independent record stores protest Jay-Z and Kanye’s album-release shutout
Review: Kanye West, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Review: Jay-Z, The Blueprint 3

Kanye West drops 'Watch the Throne,' but not before comparing himself to Hitler

When he woke up this morning, rapper/producer/provocateur Kanye West probably expected there to be a lot of headlines about him flying around the Internet. And while there are plenty of people writing breathlessly about the arrival of Watch the Throne, his long-awaited album-length collaboration with Jay-Z, West is grabbing just as many Internet eyeballs because of his comments at the Big Chill festival in the U.K. over the weekend.

On Saturday night, West paused in the middle of his set to rant about how much people dislike him and how persecuted he always feels. “I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I’m f—ing insane, like I’m Hitler,” he told the crowd. “One day the light will shine through and one day people will understand everything I ever did.” That day will remain in the distant future for the people in attendance, who booed West for comparing himself to the architect of the Third Reich.

It seems like West is saying that he is hated as much as people hate Hitler, which seems hyperbolic even for him. Also, it probably isn’t even true. We haven’t done any sort of research on this, but we imagine Hitler’s approval rating is still way lower than Kanye’s, even though the former has been dead for six decades. READ FULL STORY

While you're waiting to 'Watch the Throne,' enjoy these punchline-friendly jams

On “Otis,” the first single from Kanye West and Jay-Z’s upcoming Watch The Throne, Jay-Z spits, “Photo shoot fresh, looking like wealth/ I’m about to call the paparazzi on myself.” Not to be outdone, Kanye fires back with, “Luxury rap, the Hermes of verses/ Sophisticated ignorance, write my curses in cursive!”

Ba-dum, crash. It’s been a great summer for club-goers and college kids (read: people who love LMFAO), but when it comes to witty, winking rap one-liners, well, let’s just say we’ve missed these guys.

There’s no arguing with the fact that Jay-Z and Kanye are two of the cleverest guys in hip-hop. So if you’re getting feverish waiting for Watch The Throne to drop on Monday, fear not—we’re here to help! To tide you over for the weekend, we recommend that you first watch Jay and ‘Ye’s vaguely inexplicable new teaser trailer, and then check out these other tracks we love by rhymers with a sense of humor. READ FULL STORY

Kanye West joins Nicki Minaj on stage at Britney Spears concert: Watch it here!

One of the centerpieces of Nicki Minaj’s set on this summer’s Britney Spears-hosted Femme Fatale tour has been her head-spinning verse on “Monster,” the fantastic track from Kanye West’s 2010 magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Of course, that song also contains verses from West, Jay-Z, and Rick Ross, so it always feels a little incomplete onstage without them.

‘Ye decided to bring some extra noise during the Femme Fatale stop last night in Uniondale, New York, storming the stage during the opening notes of “Monster” for a run through through his song-opening verse.

The crowd, as expected, went a little nutty. Check out the video of West’s guest appearance here: READ FULL STORY

Independent record stores protest Jay-Z and Kanye's album-release shutout

watch-the-throne

The roll-out of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collab album Watch the Throne is threefold: On Aug. 8, both standard and deluxe versions hit iTunes digitally. Next comes the standard physical version (CD and albums), which gets to formal stores Aug. 12. Best Buy, however, will have the deluxe version exclusively. Then on Aug. 22 it’s out everywhere else.

It’s the second and third part that has indie record store owners up in arms. Peeved that Best Buy will be the only place to buy the Throne CD, the Record Store Day folks sent an email out to their indie store brothers and sisters addressed to the rhymers. In it they call Jay and Kanye’s decision to give Best Buy a deluxe head start a “short-sighted strategy, and that your decisions will be doing great damage to over 1,700 independent record stores —stores that have supported you and your music for years.”

(Though they do ask nicely: the letter also says “We know that you are busy, and that you put most of your energies into creating great music, but we are writing to you in the hope that you will hear us and take the time to rectify this matter.”)

The deluxe version of Throne features an additional four tracks—ones that the kind of music fanatics who frequent indie joints for music will want. They’ll likely have to take their dollars to the mainstream giant to get all 16 songs.

It’s definitely not fair. But as they say, business is business. Allowing the indies to sell the deluxe on Aug. 12 is probably the “right” thing to do. Really though, it’s the artists’ album. And if they want to keep it away from the little guys (as bad as that sounds), it’s their prerogative.

Sound off and check out the full letter (and the growing number of signatures supporting it) after the jump.

READ FULL STORY

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