Album Review: Watch the Throne by Kanye West & Jay-Z

Posted: August 8, 2011 by eptarheels23 in Album Review, Music
Tags: , , , , , ,

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It’s finally here!! The ten years in the making album, Watch the Throne has arrived. This is possibly the most anticipated album of the last couple years and the two biggest names in rap music have come together to finally collaborate for a full length LP. With no guest appearances from other emcees, it’s just Kanye and Jay exchanging bars for the whole album. Exactly what we all wanted. I’m really glad that this album didn’t leak, it’s a shame when artists work so hard on their music and then it leaks early (J. Cole has been a serious victim of this). It causes bad sales and is bad for music as a whole. Well I don’t want to go on to much about how much I’ve been looking forward, just hit the jump for the review of the highly anticipated collaboration between Kanye West and Jay-Z, Watch the Throne!

1: No Church In the Wild (feat. Frank Ocean) 5/5
Do Kanye and Jay start off the LP with a bang or what? The beat is a bass heavy, anthem that feels like it was shot right out of a bazooka. This track details the relationship between the two emcees literally and metaphorically using religion. With lines such as “your love is my scripture” and “what is God to a non-believer?”, this track is thought provoking and you will feel engaged right from the start. Also with OFWGKTA member, Frank Ocean, on the hook this track is an incredible first one to start off the album.

2: Lift Off (feat. Beyoncé) 4.5/5
Hov gets his wifey to lay down the hook on track number two. The record is filled with horn blasts and drums that compose most of the beat. Despite ‘Ye and Jay both dropping solid verses in terms of flow and lyrics, the real star of the show is Beyoncé. Her hook is outstanding as she sings “we gon’ take it to the moon, take it to the stars” on a chorus that seems like it was meant to be blasted in outer space. I could see this track getting some serious plays on the radio, after all it does have three of the biggest names in music today on one track. One downside is that the sound to the song is a little unfinished and doesn’t fit in with the context of the rest of the LP. Lastly I love the Blades of Glory sample they threw in there at the end, makes the track even more enjoyable. All in all, this will be a radio hit from Ye, Jay and B.

3: N****s In Paris 5/5
This is the first of the club anthems on Watch the Throne. The record has almost ominous synth kicks and punishing drums throughtout which make for one helluva banger. Jay-Z reverts back to old style that he displayed in tracks such as Big Pimpin’ before he started talking about stockbrokers and hung out with Chris Martin. He uses the double time, fast flow in the track, something you don’t really ever see from the NY emcee. Kanye also goes back to the style of enunciating the last word of each line, proving he can still come at you hard. There is also another Blades of Glory of sample in here, hilarious as usual. But this record is all about being a banger, and it does that to perfection.

4: Otis (feat. Otis Redding) 4.5/5
This has a classic, soul feel to it. It is reminiscent of a sound that would fit in on The College Dropout. But make no mistake, this track is basically just Kanye and Jay bragging. Hov drops line like “I invented swag” and “I might call the paparazzi on myself” while Ye brags “made Jesus walk so I’m never going to hell” and “I pulled up in my Benz, last week I was in my other other Benz”. I love how they go back and forth throughout the track like Kanye West and Common did on Southside. It flows well and with lines about what they’ve got left and right, it’s a great track to listen to. Could do without the screaming at the end and maybe make the track a little longer. But those are minor complaints in the overall picture of the record.

5: Gotta Have It 5/5
Over a Neptunes produced beat that sounds like it’s straight out of India, Jay and Kanye go back and forth at each other for the whole record. Similar to what they did on Otis except they exchange every four bars, making for an amazing sound. What I’ve realized is that these two push each other to be the best that they possibly can and this is probably the best example of that on Watch the Throne. Also the the looped sample of the Indian female vocal is dope and is the basic sound in the background. If you’re a fan of the back and forth type of rapping like Black Hippy does on Say Wassup, then you’ll want to listen to this. This might actually turn out to be my favorite record on the LP.

6: New Day 5/5
This is arguably the most lyrical track off the LP as Ye and Jay talk about their unborn sons. The beat is jazzy and filled with horns and futuristic sythns, making a great feel for the record. I would say this is probably Kanye’s best verse on Watch the Throne. Mr. West balances honesty, humor and insight perfectly while discussing how his past mistakes will make him a better father. Jay-Z’s verse is almost autobiographical as he speaks about his pre-rap life. Both emcees drop highly personal verses and it makes for an amazing listen.

7: That’s My B***h 4.5/5
Intricate, heavy drums lay the foundation form an extremely complex beat cooked up by Q-Tip and Kanye. The track is more uptempo and fits in nicely with the feel of the LP. I think this will be one of the more underrated cuts off Watch the Throne. Not commonly talked about as anyone’s absolute favorite record, but it certainly be up there in play count and general like for the track.

8: Welcome to the Jungle 4/5
Sorry, no Guns N Roses sample here. I was really hoping there was because it would make for an extremely interesting listen. Well, the beat is filled with guitar riffs similar to what you hear in It’s All About the Benjamin’s which makes for a killer beat. Hov straight up brags on here, similar to what he did on Otis with lines such as “look in the mirror, my only opponent”. All in all this an another great track from The Throne.

9: Who Gon’ Stop Me 5/5
This is by far the most experimental track either artist has ever done. Soaring synths, a heavy bass and a looped sample of I Can’t Stop by Flux Pavillion make for one of the best beats on the album. If you don’t know what I Can’t Stop is, it’s the same beat that Chiddy Bang went over on PB & S. The aggravated sythns and slowed down tempo create a great background for the two emcees to drop bars over. I also wouldn’t be surprised if there were a hundred remixes and freestyles over this beat like there was for A Milli. I hope that won’t be true though because Kanye and Jay killed the track the first time.

10: Murder to Excellence 5/5
Swizz Beats and POWER producer S1 cooked up one of the best best beats on the LP. The two emcees speak on everything for black-on-black crimes to celebrating black culture. Kanye West has one of the most controversial lines on the album where he compares the murder rate of his home city, Chicago, to the annual US casualties in Iraq. I have a feeling he will be asked about that a time or two. As the lyrics turn from depressing to celebratory, the beat also transforms into one of the catchiest head-nodders on the album.

11: Made In America (feat. Frank Ocean) 5/5
This is by far the simplest beat on Watch the Throne, it’s just a one chord piano loop with a few background instruments. If New Day isn’t the best track lyrically on the album, then this is. It has each artist discussing the respective pasts, wish Yeezy focusing on the past decade and Jigga talking about his upbringing. Kanye speaks on meeting Jay-Z, buying his mom a hummer and the infamous South Park episode. The second of the Frank Ocean features has him singing an evocative hook celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X, while Jay-Z talks about the necessity of hustling. This is an absolute must listen.

12: Why I Love You (feat. Mr Hudson) 5/5
Probably the most interesting track on the album. It is nothing like the previous Mr Hudson collaborations with these two rappers (Young Forever and Paranoid). If you break down the track, an almost 80’s rock ballad vibe with a hook of “oh I love you so, but why I love you, I’ll never know”, you would think it sounds terrible, but somehow they make it work. Pop synths that sound like The Final Countdown along with Jay-Z’s quick time flow once again make this a hit. This actually turns out to be a huge success and closes out the album (standard version) on a high note.

13: Illest M**********r Alive 5/5
Welcome to the longest track on the album clocking in at over eight minutes. The strange thing though is that the beat doesn’t start until the three minute mark, so the first three are silent. That’s really strange but whatever. This is a complete banger. The hammering drums and synths combine for one damn good beat. To me this is almost a better version of H•A•M. This version is a hundred times better though, but they are still very similar. This record does everything better than H•A•M, the lyrics, beat, flow, everything is stepped up. There is a reason this is a bonus track, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a great record nonetheless.

14: H•A•M 2/5
I point blank hate this song. I actually feel generous giving this song a two out five. As I have stated before I think Lex Luger is one of the worse things to happen to hip-hop in a long time and I was really disappointed to see that it effected Kanye and Jay. The beat is downright one of the strangest ones I’ve heard in recent memory. The track morphs into the weirdest sounding opera ever, with a female singing window-shattering trills over a gospel piano progression and the song’s hard-hitting beat along with an alien sounding intro. Never thought I’d say all of those thing together in one sentence. When I first heard this song, my anticipation shot down and I hoped more than anything that the album wouldn’t be like this. Well, oh my gosh it was not. The album is a thousand times better than H•A•M, I am disappointed they decided to throw this one here as a bonus track though. I wish they would have picked another song that was scrapped from the LP. Oh well.

15: Primetime 4/5
There had to be at least one No I.D. produced joint somewhere on here and we get it in the form of a bonus track. The beat is point blank crazy, it sounds like a classic Jay record. The piano and synth kicks along with a background vocal sample of the word “baby” make for a standout. I think this record could have fit in somewhere on the standard edition tracklisting. It fits the feel of the album and should be heard by everyone who buys the album, not just the deluxe version. With no chorus, just Jay and Kanye each exchanging one verse, this record has them at their best.

16: Joy (feat. Curtis Mayfield) 5/5
In my opinion this was the most underrated G.O.O.D. Friday out of the whole batch. Pete Rock was behind the boards for this one, and boy did he cook up a record that was smooth and had that old-school/throwback feel to it. This is what Kanye and Jay were meant to rap over, not that Lex Luger s**t. It amazes me how Lex Luger can even be on the same album as Pete Rock, one of the greatest producers of all-time. Well back to the track, Kanye’s verses are outstanding and his flow is top notch. Then Jay kicks his and he feels right at home too. This is how you close out an album with a amazing record.

Incredible. I think you are looking at the first classic album of the new decade. It is amazing from start to finish as Jay and Kanye rap over everything from bangers, to soul influenced beats, to piano driven melody’s, to 80’s rock ballads, to Indian style jams, they’ve got everything. I can’t find any faults with this album as a whole (except for H•A•M), it just seems to be flawless. As much as I hate to admit this, I feel like this is the best album of 2011 (sorry Kendrick). When I was thinking more about where this album fit into the other top albums of the year I realized something. This is one of the only major albums, to have actually come through. The first half of the year was all about the little guys and now the big guns are taking over the second half of 2011 beginning with Watch the Throne. There isn’t much more I can say about this, except for that you need to do yourself a favor and buy this. I have never bought a physical CD, but I’m going to go to Best Buy August 12th and get the physical deluxe edition. Do the same.

Download: Watch the Throne – Kanye West & Jay-Z

After having the album on constant rotation for almost two days I have been able to compile my Top 5 records:
1) Gotta Have It
2) N****s In Paris
3) Who Gon Stop Me
4) Made In America (feat. Frank Ocean)
5) Illest M**********r Alive / New Day

  1. Biqq Pete says:

    whole thing is dope… even H.A.M

  2. tori mack says:

    a little positive on the review?

  3. […] In Harlem and also produced the recent banger N****s In Paris off Kanye West and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne (that beat is redonkulous). Kanye West – Christmas In Harlem (feat. Cam’Ron, Jim Jones, […]

  4. […] honor of the recent release of Watch the Throne and few people suggestions, I have come up with my list of the Top 10 Kanye West and jay-Z […]

  5. […] Kanye West & Jay-Z – Watch the Throne (review) Released: August 8th Features: Otis Redding, Beyoncé, Mr Hudson, Curtis Mayfield, Frank Ocean […]

  6. […] the release of Watch the Throne and everything, it has everyone contemplating all the possibilities of future collaborations in the […]

  7. […] Kanye West & Jay-Z – Watch the Throne (review) Released: August 8th Features: Otis Redding, Beyoncé, Mr Hudson, Curtis Mayfield, Frank Ocean […]

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