Those tired of reading about how Kim Kardashian inspires Kanye West’s songwriting or watching the newest It Couple sweat it out together on hotel bed can revel in vintage Yeezy footage taken from a certain Australian mansion.
Aside from being an ideal vacation spot, the Down Under locale was home to the creation of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s 2011 collaborative album, a process that’s been transformed into a documentary short by filmmaker Robert Lopuski. Some of this leaked slowly in the buildup to closely guarded project that became Watch The Throne: Recall rumors of Russell Crowe in the studio, Yeezy giving Jay a birthday present during their trip to Aussieland, and Beyoncé going, well, HAM, to the sounds of “H.A.M.”
But second viewings are far from detrimental in better understanding this collaborative union. For every crazy statement West makes about his perfect music or shallow reality program he lends his face to in the name of love, it’s nice to see him at his most centered: at work in the studio with the man who considers him a brother, and has worked hard over the years to allow the world to see his talents. “I”m watching a guy who I pretty much mentored become his own guy with his own opinion. It’s fantastic,” Jay says.
From the 11 minutes of footage interspersed with images of West’s tweets and nods to Michael Jordan, we see West in a setting that’s previously been largely unseen to us common fans: the studio. West goes to work in the makeshift space of a private Sydney estate, toying with the Chaka Khan-esque hook of what would become “Lift Off” (“Who you know in this world that can take it this far?” he suggests to his fellow songwriter Jeff Bhasker—we’re glad you finally got it right, Ye) and laying down his verse for WTT bonus track “Illest Motherfucker Alive.”
The footage also shows how all-encompassing their work becomes. Despite being in a paradise any budget-less traveler would envy, the two can’t escape talking shop. “I wrote a few new joints today…just like a few, a couple new concepts,” Kanye says to Jay, nodding, as Beyoncé frolics flawlessly in the background. Shots of an early producing Kanye, face slightly fuller, eyes a little wider, taken in 2002 are juxtaposed with the Kanye of today, acknowledging his fixation with fashion, art, and salty greetings to his haters. “I love music that really, really, really pushes—fucks people up. Like makes them extremely mad they attempt to make music,” he says to his peers.
Witnessing how Kanye went from a ticket-buying Hard Knock Life fan to Hovs’s collaborator, and ultimately, a magnetic performer who many say has now eclipsed his former idol is endlessly interesting. Hearing the two discuss the making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, pairing their own curiosities with what’s become generally accepted album lore among the music world—”about him wanting to be the best and shit”—is fascinating, and enough to give you chills. Having two titans team up for one massive album and world tour was historic, and these subsequent revelations on the methods to their madness—Aussie mansion, Gladiator cameos, Parisian rings and all—can and will be the stories we pass on to the next generation, if they’ll let us. Check it out below.
Far from enough of a glimpse into the creative process behind two of music’s biggest names today, this extended version of WTT footage comes after news that Beyoncé is planning to shoot her own documentary about her life and career. If they’re trying to gauge the public’s interest in a two-for-one doc special that focuses on the Roc, let’s just say it’s working; we’re in.