Live: Watch The Throne. Jay-Z & Kanye West, The O2 Arena.

Let's set the sceptre rolling with a pithy adherence to the cult of celebrity. Who would you deem more famed: Jay-Z or Kanye West? About which would you rather read stories of fabricated salaciousness? Would you sooner christen your offspring Shawn or Kanye? Would you care? Indeed does anyone care? To quote Mr. West, "Do anybody make real shit anymore?" Watch The Throne was arguably, to clumsily paraphrase, really quite shit in places.

Fanciful inquisitions aside however, if this uniting to tour the record aforesaid ought to celebrate the coming together of two contemporary hip hop titans, this one's immediately a discernibly conflictual festivity. Perched atop towering virtual fishtanks at opposite ends of the arena (an inadvertent nod to the overall irrelevance of the individual perhaps, although probably not) as the pair swagger and spit to a stentorian Who Gon Stop Me, tonight may simply – if a touch scathingly – be reduced to a glorified MC battle fought out at the heart of this clangourous heckhole.

Such is the status and/ or skyscrapingly sizeable ego of each of these two rap luminaries that the supremely proficient backing band that ultimately enlightens the evening is thrust into practically backstage shadow; never to be referenced nor even so much as regarded. Nobody's clamouring for the perspiring abdomen of what at least sounds like some virtuoso guitarist to be scratched with immaculately manicured claws à la Gaga ostentation; acknowledgement via a flicker of some spotlight somewhere would certainly suffice. Similarly, the honey-drizzled vocals of Frank Ocean (on an irrespectively opulent No Church In The Wild) and the rather more indecorous squeals of the likes of Rihanna (on a despicably lackadaisical Run This Town) and Nicki Minaj (on a tragically nondescript Monster) are reduced to pale backing track imitations. There's a sense of utter neglect for anyone and everyone but themselves as they dawdle and dangle about in front of stars, stripes and other such patriotic tomfoolery. Yet somewhat bemusingly, the elaborate stageshow perhaps anticipated is similarly snubbed and although West must get a little hot and sticky around some parts beyond his leather pelmet once a spot of lukewarm pyro gets going (it resembles the crappy fizzle of off-license fireworks), the stage itself faintly resembles a deconstructed Darth Vader mask. It's just about the most disappointing thing that's ever been erected within The O2, inclusive of that atop which The Loud Tour was smuttily played out and it's consequently more conducive to the response of "come on" in place of "I like it like it".

Logistically, The O2 is a nonsensical setting for a rap show: every lyric here resonates spectacularly incomprehensibly and inherently awfully, with every witticism scrubbed out by hefty muffle and awkward echo. Of course when taken at face value the selling out of London's most sizeable may seem financially astute but realistically, it's a booking that's considerably more contentious than that of Jay-Z headlining the Pyramid Stage back in 2008. Jigga What, Jigga Who then proved a pantheon of explicit brilliance; here it's pathetically groggy, even if the heinous Americanisation of this monstrosity better befits his unmistakably NYC appeal. Thus it's deplorable that the sound isn't as lucid as the sweat-doused faces bumbling about onscreen, as instead it's about as murky as the cloud-caressing skyline of his hometown.

It's from a similarly lofty vantage point that we witness the show and if "the sky's the limit" as Carter and his Bootylicious beau once decreed, patience is periodically pushed to its respective upper bound. Moreover when West later airs Touch the Sky, the message feels overtly tangible: we're halfway there, and it reeks of carbon monoxide and greasy putridity. An unabashedly anthemic Empire State of Mind pertains to a similar degree of altitudinal pertinence (Alicia Keys is inevitably absent but fuck that; the bellowing of the crowd is as reverberant as München roar), although the amass of mangled forearms below makes for a rather glorious sight. With that said, it's no longer all doom, gloom, disparaging comments and disproportionately extortionate burgers; for however many soaring choruses Jay-Z may unleash each one crashes and burns in the raging billows of West's most fiendishly twisted and darkest Fantasies.

The megastar of the piece or purely the megalomaniac? West is arguably both: he restarts Can't Tell Me Nothing, citing his desire to put on the best show possible. It feels a little halfhearted, what with him relying on a sonorous backing track as though it were stuttering pacemaker although whether wading through hazy oceans of strobe in messianic posturing to Jesus Walks or obliterating the filthy O2 canvas with a majorly laser-based Flashing Lights, the ball is indubitably located within West's court. He spanks out this curt medley (one reminiscent of those that punctuated Prince's interminable series of evenings here back in 2007) with affecting vim, also serving up All Falls Down and Diamonds from Sierra Leone before handing the initiative over to his wearied adversary.

For both wearied and weathered by age Carter appears: U Both Know still glimmers lustrously and momentarily eclipses thoughts of West's whereabouts although it's proceeded by another seamlessly choreographed, well-phrased interchange as his counterpart eight years his junior reemerges to boisterously thunder through a flawless Power which seems to harness the hi-NRG electricity of distilled lightning. And although West may be sweatier than his designer tee is shiny, the pace of Carter's delivery pronouncedly slows. At one point he even takes a seat stage-centre, Justin Vernon's Monster lyric of "I wouldn't last these shows" acquiring a grim realism. However most significantly, the comparatively older statesman's presence gradually diminishes: West's Stronger is batted back by the D.A.N.C.E.-preluded On to the Next One and although the former instantaneously sounds substantially more dated than its timeless electroclash origin (as does its token Bape reference), Yeezy appears all too forceful for Jazzy as the latter retreats, tail between legs.

Indeed dogfight imagery features to an extent that is more salient than it is subliminal: tonight is about Jay-Z's abdication and Kanye West's promotion to the head of hip hop's top table. Noticeably, as West croons through a dense clog of Auto-Tune, Heartless assumes an odd irony for his gutless surpassing as the proverbial crown is passed down seems just so. It's savagely brutal. Retaliation comes at a premium more exclusive than the velvetine-smocked V.I.P. section below: Izzo (H.O.V.A.), one of few successful collaborations, is concluded by a sly introduction to the "genius" that is Mr. West that feels like the politest of invitations to fuck right off (the look of begrudged substitution during crunch scrap splattered across Kanye's bright whites and glinting golds), whilst Carter proffers a parting shot as the show itself comes to a close as he petulantly hollers: "Roc Nation!"

But it's a losing battle he's fighting and he's already effectively been dealt the figurative floorer. That'd conceivably be a sumptuously emotive Runaway that, even though bolstered by an unnecessarily extended coda in which West attests insistently – and again over Auto-Tune – to the widely accepted preconception of the man himself being an "asshole", exhibits the chart-haranguing immediacy of his latest LP. He captivates with the click of his fingerless-gloved fingers, crooning: "If you love somebody tonight/ Hold on real tight." It's mawkish, robotic anti-sentimentality of the highest order and it somehow transports to another level: amidst All of the Lights and that, the baton of Power is transferred and the increasing amounts of excessive "bling" dangling about each respective neck demonstrate a sort of infantile playground oneupmanship.

Ultimately, it's the record that brought the pair quite so close together that suffers though as it pales into insignificance within the context of this ego slugathon. The brazen affirmation: "London: You are now Watching The Throne" is counterintuitively segued by Monster and although far from tonight's finest instance, it again illustrates West's supremacy at the very least in terms of lyrical surrealism and musical vision. It is he who delivers a sequined gauntlet's worth of klutz-handed MJ references, exhorting the "nigga dead" line on All of the Lights be blurted back at a volume exceedingly greater to that at which it's initially yelled. Acknowledgement of the man who never made it this far east (beyond that inexplicably perturbing press conference), if that was it then West's hip hop karaoke blitz is now.

By the show's closing moments he's looking so G'd – or Z'd – up you suspect he too loses count of how many times they treat us to/ torture us with the throwaway blip and crap clatter of Niggas In Paris. Played again, and again, and again, and (I think) again it evokes painful memories of scarcely visible projections on the side of Shoreditch High Street overground on a particularly gelid February après-midi and irregardless of Will Ferrell's intolerable interjection, it's neither provocative nor pleasant even first time around. West's ebullience remains resolute however: "Pretend you're in the video!" he guffaws, prior to prompting the simulation of a club vibe. The desired effect is achieved yet it's a pretty disastrous ending to it all.

Ahead of HRH's Jubilee bash it seems apt that Carter would opt for this epoch in which to demit his position as hip hop monarch although maybe he's spent too much time making ill-advisedly named babes of late and not enough watching both his back and The Throne itself. West has been the bestest, even without the aid of sky-stroking cranes and Vernon's star turn and as they hop off, it is he who seems most hip as not only is Kim Kardashian allegedly coming between the pair but there's now a chasmic gulf separating these regal sachems of the genre.