There you have it. Another black Polaroid attached to the sequel of what looks like something that might turn out into a legit saga.
So, with no further ado, here is the story.
The minute I heard that the Watch The Throne tour was hitting Europe and more importantly, Antwerp, Belgium I realized this might be the second opportunity to try to aim for a Kanye West Polaroid. My first attempt, a story situated in Paris during Paris Fashion Week already proved me, that what I wanted was certainly…. challenging. And from the looks of it, this time, things weren’t going to get any easier. The Watch The Throne tour is a visual spectacle reserved for massive venues. In Belgium, the SPORTPALEIS (sport palace) was picked out as a WTT location, a venue comparable with MADISON SQUARE GARDEN in terms of capacity, but also notorious for it’s sound and professional production team and apparently deserves to be ranked number 5 in the world top 10 according to Billboard when it comes to biggest and best venues in the world. It’s also a location I dislike the most when it comes to this blog. Nothing personal, but I simply don’t like massive venues. I want to FEEL the artist, not look at them from a far, looking at little dots on a stage that are moving around from one spot to the other, like flies flying from one lightbulb to the next. Yes, screens help to improve your concert experience, but then I can buy a concert dvd and watch it from home, front seated in my comfy couch. But hey, that’s probably just me. 🙂
But there is a time in your career as an artist, that these are the type of venues that you need to perform in and I think we can all agree, that both KANYE as JAY-Z have had their share of success, and enough of it, to fill a dome. So, slightly reluctant I found myself going to Antwerp, to a venue I hated so much, that I even skipped SADE for it. If it comes to A Polaroid Story, I have absolutely no connections inside the venue who can actually do something without taking huge professional risks, so I mostly don’t even bother to try when artist play in this venue. I know a mission impossible when I see it, and trust me, with no inside connection, this venue is one. Now, by that time I already contacted everyone and your mother asking around for help towards getting that Polaroid picture. I had to put a great deal of pride on the side to get that done. After the 10th unanswered mail, you start to think that there is some secret boycott going on, which is totally ridiculous of course, this is just the result of what happens when you want something that is simply pretty hard to get. Nobody is going to give to you on a silver platter. Well, unless your name is Nalden ofcourse. 🙂
I contacted people from Kanye’s entourage, his management, his label and his creative team asking them for help and/or advice in order to get my Polaroid. It remained painfully quiet. As in no one replied. Nobody. I contacted the following people: Gee Roberson, Gabriel Tesoriero, Heron Preston, Virgil Abloh, Nabil Elderkin and DJ DADDY K after a tip from one of my readers, just to name a few. Last minute a good friend gave me an inside contact from the SPORTPALEIS, who after I contacted them immediately told me that they would print my file and motivate my request to Angie Warner, the official tour manager of the WATCH THE THRONE tour, but that it was not likely that they would even consider it. That was the only email that I got an actual reply on, so that alone was nice for a change. The last bit of hope I had, was ‘The Official Watch The Throne Afterparty.’ Atleast. That’s what I thought. Boy O Boy.
It turned out that this angle was the most complicated and chaotic of them all because it looked like I wasn’t the only one having trouble reaching Kanye West, meaning, there was some serious rumble in club land.The whole WTT stop in Belgium created what looked like an actual club war between 3 different clubs who were all aiming to have the official ‘Watch The Throne’ afterparty. Club Magic was the first to come out with the claim to the throne, booking Jay-Z’s dj and engineer YOUNG GURU and communicating this online via a simple flyer. However, after some straight competition from Gotha Club who simultaneously released what looked like a big budget video-invite for the party, Club Magic had to withdrawal. Apparently a huge amount of money (I heard through the grapevine 50.000€) was paid in order to have Kanye West at Gotha club. Still following here? Ok, caus we’re not done yet. Thén, ànother club, this one called Knoxx was apparently outraged that a club not residing in Antwerp managed to outbid ànd claim the official WTT after party and started to spread rumors that not GOTHA but KNOXX was the club that booked Kanye West, which then made GOTHA decide to open the doors to their after party and discharge all entry fees. That is from 97 euros to zero in a snap. Rumours of miscommunication between Kanye West management and the official bookers were spreading and I even heard that Kanye’s NY law firm had to interfere between the clubs about who could come out with the real flyer and how the afterparty was communicated. Oh I’m not even going to start about the rumours that Jay-Z would be present as well, and that Kim Kardashian and Beyonce were coming from Paris to Antwerp and ow yes, that there was a sheik flying in from Abu Dabi. Uhu. Realistic much?
So, at one point I was typing a motivation pdf file and a letter untill midnight for Gotha Club because they asked me to, the next morning, I already heard that the whole deal was off, it wasn’t sure that Kanye was coming at all, the only thing that was sure, that somebody was going to lose a lòt of money because of it, because apparently 40.000€ were already transferred, a lot of bottles of Crystal Champagne were ordered and at least 1 club invested too much money in something that would never happen. Just typing all this hassle is exhausting, let along receiving all these mixed messages and then trying to figure them all out in order to make the right decision.What do you do with all that random info and no clear facts? Guessing. That’s all you can do. So basically, by the time the day of the concert arrived, everything was given and nothing was sure. I calculated the option to pass by club GOTHA after the show, prayed that somebody, someone, ànyone would reach out last-minute via mail but that was it. There was absolutely nothing I could do to manipulate the course of events more in my way. It was in destiny’s hands and I had to let it go.
The WTT show was pretty good and I must say, a feast for the eye if you are into wild animals, lasers, and giant led screens. It had the grandeur I expected that goes with a glitzy album like WTT and I really enjoyed it. Rìght before the show, out of 18400 people I spot a familiar face, a photographer I used to work with from time to time. I was actually surprised to see him there, I never associated him with hiphop let along knew he was into artists like Jay-Z or Kanye West. He came up to me and I asked him what he was doing there when he told me that he was invited to watch the show with a ‘WTT Access All Areas’ pass because he shot the campaign pictures for Jay-Z’s new cognac brand that will be released soon. He also mentioned he did some free work with the man. Well okay then.. He was invited to watch the show on a little private stage, located right in front of the actual stage. A spot many fan would kill for. I asked him immediately if he could help me by any chance to get a bit closer towards a Polaroid but he told me that he had doubts that he would even see Jay-Z in person himself. Fair enough I guess…
I can think things trough a bit too hard sometimes, I admit that, the thing is, I don’t believe in things like ‘accidentally’. I believe in pre-destined events, but what was the deal then, with me meeting this photographer, randomly in this huge venue? He didn’t even had to be there! His seats were located totally different from mine, so what is the purpose behind me meeting him at that exact location and him sharing this rather important piece of information with me even though Jay-Z wasn’t the main focus for me that day. It felt like Lady Fortune was laughing in my face, putting the cat with the milk, but not letting the cat lick it. Just have the cat smell it a little before she puts the milk away. That’s how it felt. Anyway, I decided it could be a good sign and perhaps an angle I could work on in order to get Jay-Z one day. I didn’t focus on him for this story and decided to keep my eye on Kanye. Chasing one big boy is hard enough as it is, let along trying to work on a mogul that is Jay-Z. One thing at a time. I’m patient enough. Here are a few pictures from the WTT concert in Antwerp for you to enjoy:
It felt like National Geographic from time to time with giant predator beasts coming at you in slow motion on huge screens. I don’t consider SPORTPALEIS the perfect venue for hip hop concerts, unless it is executed in the way Yeezy & Jigga did it. After the concert we immediately drove to club Gotha, parked in front and waited until 1AM for some news, àny news that might give some certainty of a Kanye West appearance at an after party. But again, things remained silent. And then I took a huge risk … and decided to go home. I could wait all night in a club for Kanye to show up, but I was doubting that he would. Afterall, this isn’t Paris, this is Antwerp. I think Kanye would be more interested in shopping at Margiela, Raf or Dries Van Noten on a sunday rather than appear in a club for small money. So yes. I took the risk and drove home after I contemplated my options. In a different timing I’d probably give it a chance, and I would party the night away and have fun, but this was a sunday night, and I wasn’t planning on spending my time in a club waiting for something that might not show up.
I don’t know, I just felt Kanye wasn’t going to be there. So why waste time on lucid hopes instead of just daring to follow your gut feeling? The next morning I opened up my computer at home, a bit scared of what the world-wide-web might show me. Was I wrong? Did he show up anyway? Did somebody have awesome pictures of it too? He didn’t. There were no exhibits of Kanye visiting any club or afterparty in Belgium. However, a few hours later, the world-wide-web spitted out the following. I don’t know about Jay-Z, but Mister West was definitely not in Paris. Matter of fact, Kanye was still hanging around in Belgium on that rather quiet, gray and ordinary monday.
He was at GAME OUTDOOR INDOOR PAINTBALL & LASERGAME, somewhere close to Antwerp with his entourage.
(picture by PIETER SLEMBROUCK)
Under the picture the Facebook status noted:
“Monday closing day. Your name has to be Kanye West to make me work on a Monday. Kanye and his crew let themself go on the laser game fields today. Something else than playing on a sold out SportPaleis for a change.” – Pieter Slembrouck –
When I saw this, I realised Lady Fortune was laughing in my face. Again. No, hold on, I take that back. She was rolling on the floor laughing. Rolling. For an hour. I mean, how cruel can she be?!! 🙂 You need to crawl before you ball is a cool song lyric for most of you but a stone cold fact for me. But no panic. All is not lost, desperation has not defeated me yet. Technically, if we go back into APS history, artists like Kanye West require at léast 3 attempts. Remember Pharrell? Need I remind you about Snoop Dogg?
So yeah. Be ready for some more crawling from my part I guess.
The balling will come sooner or later.
PS:I would like to thank the following people who tried to help me with this story in different ways; Aicha Candeesha, Thomas Gerits, Emeka Alams, Bernard, Javier Barcala, Bradly Dunn, Flor, Jan, Sofie ‘Coco Pastis’ Steffens, Mehdi El Hamzaoui & Urban Soul Mag. Your contribution, as tiny as it my appear, was much appreciated.
I’m leaving you all with a quote from a friend of mine: “If you can help somebody, just because you can, why wouldn’t you?”