At this point, Jay-Z and Kanye West have already completed the U.S. and European legs of the tour in support of their joint Watch the Throne album , but this week, on the anniversary of the LP’s release, a 10-minute documentary of the recording process was released. The film’s director, Robert Lopuski, told MTV News he hoped to capture the duo’s most intimate moments in the studio.
The documentary was filmed at a private estate in Sydney, Australia, where the Throne posted up to finish recording the monumental album. Lopuski, who previously worked with ’Ye on his “Power” video and saw plenty of his work featured on West’s blog, received a call from Kanye’s manager Don C, asking him to properly document the sessions.
“Both Jay and Kanye felt that it was an important thing for them to [document], so Don C called me up and invited me down,” Lopuski said. “The Australia sessions were very intimate; it was really just six or seven people in a room. They rented a mansion and turned it into a recording studio.”
Without any specific direction from the Throne, Lopuski got to work trying to craft something unique. “I am a fan and was a fan of the guys before I flew down there,” he said. “It’s so easy in hip-hop to sell these big, bombastic, exaggerated gestures, but I was more interested in the smaller moments and the quietness of what they do and why they do it. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to see and I was striving to capture the little moments in their process.”
Though the documentary captures moments with Jay-Z and even his wife Beyoncé hanging at the private estate, it also zeroes in on Kanye West’s rise to glory, splicing in footage from a decade ago, including his infamous Roc-A-Fella Records “chaining day.”
“Being a fan of both of those guys, I knew their story and I felt there was something really powerful there,” Lopuski said of his decision to add the vintage footage. “Essentially Kanye was a fan who became a collaborator with Jay and then became his own thing. Historically, that was really charged to me, to be in the studio and see these guys working together, so I wanted to go back and touch that.”
While it was Lopuski’s job as a professional to capture the intimate studio moments, there were a few that he wasn’t able to share on camera that will always remain with him.
“One time they were playing tracks and everybody was commenting on tracks, and Jay every now and then would walk around the studio and try verses out,” he explained, recalling one standout incident. “And there was one moment where Jay came up to me, tapped me and tried a verse out on me. I wasn’t expecting it, and I looked up as he tried the verse out, and I was completely shocked that that was happening. He looked at me to see what my response was, and I just smiled. Inside of an already special experience, that was something even further.”