Watch the throne
CONFLICT is a powerful force that creates one of two results: disaster or sheer magic. Joe Sample once said that a classic is created when everyone involved has the exact same thing in mind when working together. News of Watch The Throne was dominated by rumors of arguments between the two rappers and expectations that came with the prospects of the album. While Kanye West and Jay Z probably had a common goal, this collaborative album affects their respective careers differently.
The album starts off with the eerie No Church In The Wild aided by Frank Ocean, where the wordsmiths tightrope the line between religion and heresy, with Kanye musing “love is cursed by monogamy” on his and 88-Keys drumming bounce. Breaking the mould is the order of the day as formulas are thrown out the window in exchange for spontaneous recording sessions in hotels around the world.
Cameos are limited to Beyonce, Swizz Beatz and Frank Ocean (also on Made In America). Other than Ocean no other appearances are all that notable. On the heavy Niggas In Paris, The Throne celebrates their success and wealth on an international mind trip as Jigga brags “I ball so hard, motherfuckers tryna fine me”. Throughout the entire album Jay’s smooth bravado and Kanye’s hard-to-digest gusto compliment each other strangely well, a telling sign of the creative chemistry between these two artists.
The soulful Redding sample on Otis (Try A Little Tenderness) makes the perfect playground for Jay Z to narrate a crime epic and for Kanye to play the rich, black jerk, in true Roc-a-fella style. However it’s the cut Gotta Have It where The Throne’s tag team prowess is displayed best.
Naturally, the song is criminally short. Lyrical substance does prevail on Welcome To The Jungle, where Jay Z tells tales of fear with the crisp set of a Swizz Beatz aided hook and beat. Murder To Excellence is a sincere sounding tribute to the plight of modern black Americans who fall to crime and violence. The Joy brings a powerfully sentimental ending to the album but a distorted sounding Primetime almost ruins it. Overall the album is a superb collection of great songs by two of hip hop’s biggest names. This is an example of great hip hop masterminds graduating to rock star status. This does not come without a setback, though.
After the classic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy last year this is quite a leap backward for Kanye West. However for Jay Z the album his best body of work since The Black Album, years after repeatedly failing to top his 2003 faire ses adieux masterpiece. While Jay will hold his head up after winning back his crown and earning his twelfth number one album, last year’s hip hop clinic is one that Kanye West may be doomed to try and outdo for the rest of his career.