Album Review- Watch the Throne

The most anticipated day of the year has arrived; Kanye West & Jay-Z’s latest effort dropped exclusively on iTunes early this morning. Since the release of HAM in January, it has certainly been the most talked about project in Hip Hop land.

The album takes off running No Church in the Wild, a rugged anthem to ferocious lifestyles filled with religious metaphors and verbiage. More striking than the lyrics, however, is the hypnotic rolling guitar riff that drives the 88 Keys/Kanye joint production. Frank Ocean also shines in the first of his two album appearances.

Watch the Throne continues the musical stampede with proceeding tracks featuring production by the likes of Q-Tip, Swiss Beats, the RZA, and the Neptunes. Lyrically, Jay and Kanye explore both the heights of braggadocio as well as the depths of their own emotion. On New Day, Kanye writes of his future son:

Don’t want him to be hated, all the time judged
Don’t be like your daddy that would never budge
And I’ll never let him ever hit a strip club
I learned the hard way, that ain’t the place to get love

Each gets his own share of boasting time, however. On the overwhelmingly soulful Otis, Jay showcases his classic Roman self-esteem: Photo shoot fresh, looking like wealth/ I’m ’bout to call the paparazzi on myself.  The deluxe version closes with The Joy, a Pete Rock produced classic released last year in Kanye’s “G.O.O.D. Friday” collection.  It’s a relief to see this song receive mainstream promotion;  it is undeniably Jay and Kanye’s best track.

If the album has any low points, they would be Made in America and HAM. Made in America is well-worn lyrical territory over subpar production; HAM seems to be a track intended to get purchases from the learner’s permit segment of the population.  Much of the album’s subject matter is tedious to long-time Hip Hop fans, many of which are bored with “Money” rhymes.

Despite the tiresome lyrical content, both Jay and Kanye’s delivery is on point and clever.  They rhyme about the high life in a way that is unique from other rappers.  Several of the the album’s tracks do have more meaningful lyrics though, such as “Murder to Excellence” and “The Joy”.  Overall, this album absolutely qualifies as a classic. When the game’s two heaviest hitters collaborate on such a massive project, the result cannot be taken lightly.

Score: 4/5

Standout Tracks

Gotta Have It
LOLOLOL to White America, assassinate my character
Money matrimony, yeah, they tryna break the marriage up
Who gon’ act phonier? Who gon’ try to embarrass ya?
I’ma need a day off, I think I’ll call Ferris up

New Day
And if the day comes I only see him on the weekend
I just pray we was in love on the night that we conceived him
Promise to never leave him even if his mama tweakin’
Cause my dad left me and I promise never repeat him

Murder to Excellence
And said the church ain’t got enough room for all the tombs
It’s a war going on outside we ain’t safe from
I feel the pain in my city wherever I go
314 soldiers died in Iraq
509 died in Chicago

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