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Watch The Throne - Jay-Z & Kanye West
Member Name: breezy1
Watch The Throne - Jay-Z & Kanye West
Advantages: 'No Church in the Wild', 'Lift Off', 'Made in America'
Disadvantages: Not going to appeal to their casual fans
2nd June 1953, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, but I don't believe this is the same throne that Jay Z and Kanye West are keeping their eyes on. In fact, should we have any coronations in the near future I advise we keep Kanye away after his recent performances at award ceremonies. "Hell no, I should be King!"
'Watch The Throne' is a collaborative effort from both the rappers and one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year. I have to admit; I'm not a fan of efforts like this. Eminem tried it earlier this year with Royce da 5'9" (Bad Meets Evil), and Bow Wow teamed up with Omarion to give a joint album a go in 2007.
Kanye is well known for his ego, so I feel comfortable in saying that there is no one else alive in the business that he would agree to do a joint album with, except Jay Z. Being the biggest name in rap at the moment, if anyone can reign in Kanye, it's Jay. Only problem is Kanye is known for his off the wall, creative twists he throws on his music. Could some of that wear off here?
No Church in the Wild (ft. Frank Ocean) is the opening track to the album, and it has that cowboy boots in the sand ready for a stand off sound to the production (if that's possible). As Jay raps, Kanye cuts in half way through about love being his scripture. A solid opening then takes us on to Lift Off (featuring Beyonce), which must be a strong contender for the next single and features the sultry vocals of Mrs. Jay Z. She says that they are taking it to the moon, to the stars and asks how many other people you know that could take it this far? Beyonce has worked with both her husband and Kanye previously, so she was always a sure thing to feature on the album, and she definitely adds a commercial edge that can bring in more sales.
What did Jay Z say about the Death of Autotune on his Blueprint 3 album, because Kanye has already reintroduced it on this album. N*ggas in Paris is quite honestly all a bit of a blur, and more of a straight up rap affair with a bit of production. Otis (ft. Otis Redding) is the second single released from the project and has already been at 12 on the US Billboard. More surprising I feel is that the track has already entered the UK charts at 38, as this is not the song I would expect British listeners to respond to. Clearly people are responding to the Otis and James Brown sampling.
Gotta Have It continues on perfectly, something that these artists seem to repeatedly do. This is the only track on the album to feature Pharrell Williams as a writing credit and The Neptunes on production. It continues along with the James Brown sample. Clearly they have a thing about sampling on this album, as New Day borrows from Nina Simone's Feeling Good although this is more limited to the background. That's My Bitch probably doesn't come as that much of a shocking track title given one we had earlier, and this sounds like a standard Kanye song ("I bought dem t*tties, get your own"). By the time Jay comes in you've forgotten it's even a joint album, and Kanye has definitely been the superior rapper thus far.
Welcome to the Jungle is almost a little too close to the bone of what you'd expect from a rap track, with the added "uhs" you can almost picture them, swaying backwards and forwards grabbing their junk. And it pains me to say this, as Jay, and especially Kanye, aren't usually so predictable. This track even throws out a mention to Michael Jackson. If that isn't run of the mill, I don't know what is. Who Gon Stop Me on the other hand is a little more crazy, in your face, and almost a remix away from being a dance track.
Murder to Excellence is like two tracks in one, with the first half being produced by Swizz Beats and the second by S1 (who is most well known for his recent work with Kanye West and Beyonce on 'Power' and 'Best Thing I Never Had' respectively). A lot of spitting about 'black on black' murder here and the war going on outside, which is quite ironic given the recent London riots and around the UK. So with the negative aspects of the black community addressed by Kanye, Jay then commits his half to the excellence of his race. As you would expect, there's the reference to church. Made in America (ft. Frank Ocean) is the second time Frank has appeared on the album, with this leap of faith by Jay and Kanye to include him on their album probably proving to be the platform he needs to leap as a solo star. This is possibly the softest I've heard the album so far, "Sweet baby Jesus, you were made in America." And any time you hear Kanye mention his mother you know he's being sincere. I really like this track and it would make a good next single, however it may be one of those that stays as an album track and remembered for all the right reasons. You don't even have to wave the star spangled banner to appreciate this. Mr Hudson probably hasn't fulfilled his potential, but he gets another shot by featuring on the last track of the standard edition of the album - Why I Love You. And just as the album started strongly, it's going to end on a high. Jay seems to be a believer when it comes to Hudson, so needless to say he takes the lead on this.
Illest Motherf*cker Alive is the first of four bonus tracks on the deluxe edition, and it reminds me somewhat of something you would have heard on Kanye's last Dark Twisted Fantasy album. The moving on to HAM (Horny Ass Men), it was the first single to be released from the album but it didn't exactly grab anyone's inspirations. Having said that, it did peak at 23 on the US Billboard and a very healthy 30 in the UK. Clearly the star power behind the names did it good. Primetime is something both these stars know a lot about, but as far as making a track out of it there's not much to say. The Joy (ft. Curtis Mayfield) closes the album, being the second deceased artist on the album, it's nice to see them paying homage to some lesser-known stars that obviously inspired them.
All in all there are some moments of rap brilliance on the album, but very few radio friendly tracks - especially with some of their choice of words. That's not to say that the raps aren't lyrically sublime, and if you are a fan of this genre then you should go out and buy it. No doubt this album will fit right in with what the American mark loves, and I doubt the exclusive deal to Best Buy that independent retailers have been up in arms about should affect their sales. If you liked tracks such as Jay Z's 'Run This Town' with Rihanna and Kanye West's 'Stronger', you will be disappointed that there is nothing on this album that in any way relates to that. This is for die-hard Jay Z fans, and it's almost slightly upsetting to see Kanye slightly reigned in by his mentor.
Summary: The kings are here however, and perhaps they should think about crashing the next coronation... especi