Music Feature

Album Review: Jay-Z and Kanye West - Watch The Throne

by Mercedes Jones
After a while, one gets tired of Caviar and Champagne...
watch the throne

Rating: 4/5

Watch The Throne is the much anticipated collaborative--show piece--by mega rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West.  This is the duo's debut album as a collective, and a platinum plated display of opulence upon opulence, and the best of the best, working with the best of the best.  But even with it's couture packaging, diva release schedule and star studded cast, the album's redundancy, proves that after a while, one can tire of caviar and champagne and simply crave Ramen Noodles and soda pop.

"No Church In the Wild" starts the album off at a break neck speed, with cannibalistic preaching, over pulsating percussions.  Jay-Z's punctuating metaphors and Kanye's macabre melodramatics are framed by Frank Ocean's smooth vocals and a auto tuned appearance by producer, The Dream.  Album-mate "Welcome To The Jungle" has a slightly identical metaphor, with drugs, lust, and extravagance reigning supreme.  These jungle themed, ghetto inspired tracks insinuate indulgence and wild abandonment.

"Lift Off" is a musical trifecta, with Jay-Z, Kanye West & Beyonce at the helm of the ship.  Slated as the third single to be released off of the album, the "out of this world" production team includes hip hop elite Q-Tip and Pharrell Williams on the boards.  Complete with fan fare and a pissed off Jay-Z, this song is quite the spectacle and the only thing missing is the kitchen sink.

"Ni**as In Paris" is a multi-textured track, filled with bragadocious rhymes, over yet another million dollar beat.  Served up like diamonds on a solid gold platter this track sets the tone for songs like "That's My Bitch"- a fast paced boom bap track produced in part by hip hop legend Q-Tip.  Laced with one liners and choir crooning, this track destructs and rebuilds the female psyche in one fell swoop.  More of the same bragging can be found over the brilliantly layered beats of "Why I Love You" and "Who Gon Stop Me"- a mesmerizing, trance like track, with samples from dubstep king Flux Pavilion's "I Can't Stop".

For those who may have skated through American music history, this sample laden album may serve as cliff notes.  The albums second hit single "Otis",  features a hasty sample of Otis Redding's 1967 classic, "Try A Little Tenderness".  Heavily sampled throughout the album is James Brown, who comes in at a whopping four samples on four different songs, making this collaboration more of a trio, than a duo.  Brown's "Don't Tell A Lie About Me and I Won't Tell the Truth About You", appears on both "Otis" and follow up track "Got To Have It", prodcuced by prolific beat makers Kanye West and The Neptunes.

"New Day" is a regretfully honest tale to fictitious sons, about the wrongs of Duns. A self deprecating West addresses his wrongs, stating life lessons in the past tense, with a mature Jay-Z schooling more of his unborn children.  Tracks that find themselves in this same remorseful predicament are "Made In America"and "Murder To Excellence", which lyrically suffer from more of the same auto-biographical tales, of dream chasing hardships.

"Illest Motherfucker Alive""H.A.M.""Primetime", and "The Joy" bring up the rear, as bonus tracks on the deluxe edition.  Adding to the already bountiful collection of superstar producers, classic sampling and bi polar subject matter, while not straying far from the album's lavish formula.  

Exquisite production mask the insecurities of this album.  The task of sifting through lyrics, identifying samples and isolating beat layers deflect and distract listeners, making it easy to get caught up in the pomp and circumstance.  But after the monotonousness tug of war between bragging and lamenting, this album looks good on paper and falters in lyrical content.  Once the wrapping is torn off of this gift to hip hop, you'll be left wondering: Is there anything left for Jay-Z to rap about?  Is there anything that Kanye West hasn't bragged about?  

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