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09/08/2011 'Watch The Throne' Review
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|'Watch The Throne' Review|
|09-08-2011 08:42 | 0 comment(s)|
| Watch The Throne, the first full collaborative effort from Jay-Z and Kanye West, has been deemed by many as an instant classic and others as an overly hyped product by two vets. But, the fact is, most opinions are rooted in baseless or biased opinions, having little to do with the actual music. Most people tend to love or loathe Mr. West and Mr. Carter with very few gradients of gray. Watch The Throne is the most ambitious effort the pair have joined forces on and the world awaits to hear it. The dynamic duo do not disappoint.
The album jump starts with "No Church in the Wild" which features Frank Ocean crooning a contagious, thoughtful hook, over production by Kanye West and 88-Keys. Ocean sings: "What's a king to a God? / what's a God to a non-believer?" and suddenly Jay-Z goes into a first verse that delves into philosophers, thinkers, and religion. Jigga raps,"Tears on the mausoleum floor, blood stains the coliseum doors / lies on the lips of the priests, Thanksgiving disguised as a feast." Then, Kanye graces the first track off Watch the Throne with his presence. Ocean croons as wild animal noises chirping and screeching in the background.
Beyonce owns "Lift Off," an epic anthem that grabs hold of the listener from the first few chords the heavy synths. Beyonce starts off the song with an operatic chorus. Kanye spews the song's first verse, as he switches between straight raps and some melodic singing of his own. Jay comes in next and compliments his cohorts well. The song closes with an actual voice counting down a lift-off sequence and then "N***as In Paris" begins, a Southern-styled bouncy track. However, there is just a certain level of musicality to this track that feels light-years beyond the average rap songs of the day. The beat, which induces heavy head-nodding, officially drops halfway through Jay's verse. Kanye comes through: "Prince Williams ain't do it right if you ask me / If I was him I would have married Kate and Ashley." The track then breaks down a Blades of Glory movie reference before concluding with a slowed-down crash reminiscent of the 80's instrumentalists Art of Noise.
"Otis," has Jay and Ye in more traditional territory than the aforementioned songs. The Kanye-produced song samples Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness." After a soulful intro, Jay and Kanye trade verses over a very classic Roc-A-Fella days type of record. Both sound like they're having fun with lines like: "Photo shoot fresh, looking like wealth / I'm bout to call the paparazzi on myself," and "can you see the private jets flying over you / Maybach bumper sticker read 'what would Hova do?'" Some have expressed concern over the materialistic content, but the vibe of "Otis" doesn't last for long on Watch The Throne.
The Neptunes-produced "Gotta Have It" is pleasant, but the real gem is "New Day," a song Jay and Kanye pen to their fictional unborn sons. It shows both as vulnerable and honest, backed by RZA and Kanye's production. Kanye starts, "And I'd never let my son have an ego, we gon, be nice to everyone wherever we go / I mean I might even make him be Republican, so everybody know he love white people." Jay vows to his son, "Promise to never leave him even if his momma tweaking / Cause my Dad left me and I promised never repeat him."
"Who Gon' Stop Me" is a song tailor made for the big cars with the big systems. With its heavy synths, deeply monophonic bassline, and dubstep roots, this song thumps. Over a sample of Flux Pavilion's "I Can't Stop," Kanye, Sak Pase, and Mike Dean produced a true "banger." Jay brags: "So many watches, I need eight 8 arms / One neck, I got eight charms." The verses are cut in and out with the chorus of "who gon stop me now?" Kanye goes back to the speakerphone rap as the beat begins to morph and change in the background. In the best way possible, this one will do some damage to your speakers. (The co-writer of this piece, Jigsaw, deemed this his favorite track in the WTT preview last month.)
"Welcome To The Jungle," which almost didn't make the album, explodes onto WTT as one of the best songs on the album. Jay-Z is more emotive on this song than we've seen from him in a long time. "My uncle died, my daddy did too, I'm numb from the pain, I can barely move. My nephew gone, my heart is torn. Sometimes I look to the sky, ask why I was born," he sulks. But in the same song the self-proclaimed Black Axel Rose spews, "I look in the mirror, my only opponent." That's My B*tch is a pretty cool frenetic record that borrows a lil' Public Enemy and a dash of Justin Vernon. Its quite possible that this song could unwittingly get play in the club.
Against a soft-electro and piano-laden beat, Jay tells the success story we've heard many times before on "Sweet Baby Jesus," one of transforming from the corner to a mogul. It is a very "if we made it so can you, but you have to work for it" kind of song. Ocean sings: "Sweet King Martin [Luther King, Jr.], sweet Queen Coretta [Scott King] / Sweet brother Malcolm [X], sweet Queen Betty [Shabazz] / Sweet Mother Mary, sweet father Joseph / Sweet Jesus, we made it in America / Sweet Baby Jesus." The song is special and introspective. Still, Ye takes a bit of time to stunt after reminiscing over the early days with his mother and mentor NO I.D. He raps, "N***as hustle everyday for a beat from Ye / What I do? Turn around, give them beats to Jay / Now I'm rapping on the beats people supposed to buy / I guess I'm getting high on my own supply." The song oozes soul and, with his second appearance on the album, Frank Ocean's inclusion alone proves he is a force to be reckoned with.
"Why I Love You," which features G.O.O.D. Music's Mr. Hudson, offers a pleasing return the worldly musings offered throughout Watch The Throne. The song chorus repeats, "Ooh, I love you so, but why I love you, I never know." Jay handles the first verse and most of the second with lines like: "Charge it to the game, whatever's left on it / I spent about a minute maybe less on it / Fly pelican fly, turn the jets on it / But first I shall digress on it." Before the verse is over Kanye joins and weaves lines in and out of Jay's. They continue this pattern for most of the third verse amidst the elevating beat and violins. All to soon it ends and Watch the Throne comes to a screeching close.
"Why I Love You," is a fitting finale for Watch The Throne. Jay-Z and Kanye have taken a creative position where its impossible not to care. Love and hate are close relatives and both can succumb to emotional notions in fans and critics alike. This album is a creative victory at worse and at its very best, a paradigm shift for Hip-Hop. Now, it is time for the listeners to contend with their real feelings towards Watch The Throne.
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