The long wait is over, the collaborative album between Jay-Z and Kanye West, Watch The Throne has arrived. The album features themes of religion, social issues, wealth and the high life. If you are looking for a humbling album to listen to, Watch The Throne is not it. The album cover as per below is a very royal embossed gold imprint. The second single off the album is “Otis” which I have reviewed in a previous post here.
You already know anything that Yeezy and Jigga are going to produce it’s going to have swagger and be cutting edge in it’s sound. Kanye and Jay-Z in their solo albums have successfully integrated everything from strings to African drums, showtunes to guitar and horns, autotune to jazz. Aur-gasmic is what I would I call the unique sound of this album.
Controversy around the release of “Watch The Throne”
The great Chuck D sent a video message to Jay-Z and Kanye regarding the social irresponsibility embedded in “Otis,” alluding to the fact that the track (and I believe the album overall) is a smack in the face of Black America’s current economic plight.
Only weeks ago the United States experienced one of their largest economic market crashes of all time plunging the nation into panic and depression. America has such large wealth disparity, consumerist culture and greed has fuelled big corporation crashes in recent times. Watch The Throne is quite reckless and arrogant in that it glamorises the high life and swag merely because Jigga and Kanye can. They have multi-million dollar income streams which is a far cry from the wealth of their fan base who would have bought the album for under $30.
1. No Church In The Wild (ft. Frank Ocean) – This track questions religion and faith, and features jacked sounds from James Brown’s “Don’t Tell A Lie About Me and I Won’t Tell the Truth About You,” auto-tune and wild animals such as monkeys and lions.
2. Lift Off (ft. Beyonce) – Synth heavy track featuring the buttery vocals of Jigga’s girl Bey. My bet is this will be an upcoming single, the underlying message of this track is to strive hard to achieve your dreams.
3. Niggas in Paris – The first line of the track is from one of my favourite films “Blades of Glory” I hit repeat a few times to make sure they also feature later in the track. The word ‘cray’ is stated a lot I noticed meaning crazy good. This is a track about partying and balling.
4. Otis – Showy track oozing with swag and fun featuring samples of Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness.”
5. Gotta Have It – Features the tamborine, female background vocals, sick beat, again about balling and having buku money.
6. New Day – This is one of the standout tracks (an RZA production), it’s an ode to their unborn children laden with delicious flow, autotune and realness.
7. That’s My Bitch – Features Elly Jackson from La Roux on the hook, this song in short is about bragging on their sexy girlfriends and all the things they can buy them. Very catchy tune.
8. Welcome To The Jungle – A Swizz Beatz production, not feeling the beat too much I expected more. The song reveals Jay-Z’s painful past and how even with all the wealth and fame he has, he can still feel low.
9. Who Gon Stop Me – Lots of dubstep, this track is about going harder, overcoming and materialism.
10. Murder to Excellence – One of my favourite tracks on the whole album, this song is about black on black murder and it’s prevalence in the press, and then Jay-Z strangely switches it up halfway through and the track changes significantly to singing about black excellence, overcoming adversity and basking in wealth.
11. Made In America (ft. Frank Ocean) – Another standout for me that pays tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. It’s a very chill song and I think Frank Ocean really makes this patriotic song.
12. Why I Love You (ft. Mr Hudson) – Weakest sounding track on the album for me, Jay-Z spits about being betrayed by people close to him.
13. Illest Motherf*cker Alive – Nice beat to this track, but fairly forgettable, more boastful swagger.
14. H.A.M. – H.A.M the acronym meaning ‘hard as a motherf**ker,’ was the first single off the album, I feel the opera vocals are a little bit too indulgent at times. I would have thought “Otis” would have been a better first single choice than this.
15. Primetime – Kanye’s all over this track, he talks about his life coming up into the limelight and the materialism that comes with that.
16. The Joy (ft. Curtis Mayfield, Pete Rock, Kid Cudi and Charlie Wilson)- My favourite track on the album, the lyrics themselves aren’t all that great but the sounds in this song are CRAZY! It features samples of Curtis Mayfield’s “The Makings of You” and Syl Johnson’s “Different Strokes.”
Overall, standout tracks for me include “Otis,” “New Day,” “Murder to Excellence,” “Made In America” and “The Joy.” I feel that Watch The Throne is a classic album, however I would have preferred a little more depth in lyrical content and less bravado and swag which I feel Jay-Z could have bought with him to this production given his maturity, business mindedness (as oppose to Kanye’s wealthy frivolity of no expense spared) and hard-knock upbringing. The release of this album during the tough economic times in the United States is unfortunate, however I don’t feel this will greatly affect sales. Quite frankly, if you weren’t a fan of Kanye West’s and Jay-Z’s baller swagger and showiness before, chances are you won’t change your mind after listening to Watch The Throne, this is an album for the fans.
What do you think of Watch The Throne?
Fancye Scale: 4 / 5