Documenting the Throne

www.complex.com
8 min read
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A decade ago, Robert Lopuski flew to Australia to film Jay-Z and Kanye West work on 'Watch the Throne' in a mansion for a doc that never officially released.
Filmmaker Robert Lopuski opened the door of an Australian mansion in 2011, and heard a booming voice that he instantly recognized.

It was Jay-Z.

The rap legend was standing in the living room of the private mansion, recording a verse for Watch the Throne, his then-in-progress collaborative album with Kanye West.

"I just very gently entered the space and everybody was quiet while Jay recorded," Lopuski remembers now. "It was one of those surreal moments, where you just stand there, like, 'Oh, wow.' You both hear and feel the power of somebody who is just great at this, doing it in a very intimate space."

Lopuski was at the mansion to make a film about the making of Watch the Throne. Everyone involved with the album had sensed something monumental was taking place while Jay and Kanye were in the early stages of the recording process, and it became very clear the sessions needed to be documented.

Kanye had first come across Lopuski's work back when the filmmaker took stills on the set of Kid Cudi's "Pursuit of Happiness" music video, and decided to reshare them on his KanyeUniverseCity blog. This led to Lopuski getting hired to help with the "Power" music video and work on a video profile of director Marco Brambilla for Nowness, which also impressed Kanye. So, when it came time to find a filmmaker to document the WTT sessions, Kanye knew exactly who he wanted.

Once Lopuski got the call, he spent a week filming the sessions in Australia, collecting material that he describes as "chaos footage." It was raw and unrefined, but he knew right away that he had captured a truly historic moment in time. And editing is his strong suit, so he had confidence he could turn it into something special.

Image via Robert Lopuski

Unfortunately, the 10-minute documentary leaked on the internet before it could be officially released. The short film had reached the final stages of development, but the leak derailed plans, and it ultimately ended up living on blog pages and Vimeo…
Eric Skelton
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