- No Church In The Wild (feat. Frank Ocean)
- Lift Off (feat. Beyonce)
- Niggas In Paris
- Otis (feat. Otis Redding)
- Gotta Have It
- New Day
- That’s My Bitch
- Welcome To The Jungle
- Who Gon Stop Me
- Murder To Excellence
- Made In America (feat. Frank Ocean)
- Why I Love You (feat. Mr. Hudson)
- Illest Motherfucker Alive
- The Joy (feat. Curtis Mayfield)
When the news broke that Jay-Z and Kanye were coming together to make an album, I was curious. Couple Jay-Z’s methodical, calculated rhyming with Kanye’s emotionally-driven fantastical flow, I thought they could do something different. But when I finished listening to the album, it felt like a meal that didn’t quite fill me up. (Utaban reference!)
As a fan of strong opening tracks to albums, WTT has a great one. Odd Future member Frank Ocean lends his voice with a thought-provoking chorus and Jay and Kanye come with biblical and philosopher references. Those two are themes that carry out through the entire album. But sadly, the quality doesn’t do the same.
My problem with this album is that it sounds disjointed. Instead of a duo, they still sound like solo rappers. I think they rarely achieve complete cohesion. Otis, New Day, No Church in the Wild, Primetime and The Joy (A song that came out a year or so ago during Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Friday series) are where they sound completely together. Most of the time, they sound like they are wrestling with wanting the best verses on the song vs creating a marriage of their styles.
When you are working with another person on a project, you are going to have different ideas and have to find a way to bridge them. On WTT, with Jay-Z being there, the beats they selected have more of Jay’s fingerprints on them than Kanye. Yes Kanye worked on them but some of these beats sound like something Kanye would create but wouldn’t choose for his album.
I think DJ Hyphen, a Seattle DJ puts it aptly: “Hearing Kanye in a group is like watching Usain Bolt run the relay. Yeah, it’s cool, but he’s the best. I want him to show off solo. Plus, his relationship with Jay definitely affected the creative process. Guarantee you Ye let something go on the album cause Jay liked it. That said, it’s still Ye and Hov. Of course it’s dope. But the “game changing” element of #WTT is on the business side. Not the music.”
I don’t think the album should be bought in it’s entirety. Good thing we have digital sales now. I say only a handful of songs are worth having. I recommend you only go get the aforementioned songs along with Niggas In Paris and Murder to Excellence.
I find modern Hip-Hop to be rather atrocious and uninspired. Perhaps it’s because I’m a child of the 90’s and I am set in my old man ways of the current youth music being a perpetual mine field of shit. But really, it’s more likely that due to my absence from the Hip-Hop world (because I found cute Japanese girls) that I am not accustomed to the sounds and stylings of today’s Hip-Hop artists,
Even with that said I have a toe or two in the door and still quietly pay attention to what’s going on. I may not write about it as often (again, cute Japanese girls > random Hip-Hop dude) but every once in a while I find something that manages to hold my interest.
That is where this collaboration album between Jay-Z and Kanye West comes in. Two of Hip-Hop’s heavyweights coming together to rip everyone a new one & remind jaded old heads like me that there is still hope in the genre. Well that’s what I was hoping when I heard of this project. Now that it has come to fruition?
I can say that I am very satisfied and impressed with Watch The Throne. The songs have that gritty, east coast kind of vibe to them. The beats are more organic and don’t rely too much on heavy electronic sounds. Instead you get a bit of sample wizardry with many familiar songs getting cut up and re-worked to great effect. For sample trainspotters this album is treasure trove of goodness.
As for what is worth listening to? There’s a lot actually and it all depends own what your taste and mood might be at any given moment. But for the most part there’s a lot hits and minimal misses. The most hard hitting songs are No Church In The Wild, Niggas In Paris and Murder To Excellence.
Those songs give Jay-Z & Kanye free reign over the beats, allowing them to go off lyrically without any limitations. Which is a great thing since a lot of the material on this album isn’t exactly radio friendly without some major edits and or creative removal of curse words. Other tracks worth checking out include the lead single from this album Otis, New Day and Illest Motherfucker Alive.
The dreaded question everyone must ask these days is, “Is there auto-tune? If so, how much?” Yes there is some auto-tune on this album but it’s tastefully done. If you liked Kanye’s 808’s and Heartbreaks you’ll have a good sense of the kind of auto-tune work that is on Watch The Throne.
But don’t let that deter you from giving this album a go. If you’re a jaded person like me who misses decent Hip-Hop it may give you hope that something great is still coming out of the genre.
Definitely pick this up by any means necessary.
Watch The Throne