Kanye West & Jay-Z - Watch The Throne

At 12AM Kanye and Jay-Z pulled off the leakless LP release of the music industry’s dreams, along with inspiring the robust Twitter hashtags #WTTRules (via @RobMarkman: “No. 1: The album has to be out a FULL 5 DAYS before any person, publication or Online outfit declare it ’Classic.’”) and the less-meta/more critic-y #WTT. So it’s not a competition, but obviously only One Rapper Will Win All The Thrones. Who is it?? For an album as character-driven as WTT, pitting two of the largest figures in pop culture against/alongside each other, it’s a nicely neutralizing touch for the first voice heard to be neither of theirs. (Hi, Frank Ocean.) And yet let’s compare opening lyrics. Jay: “Tares on the mausoleum floors / blood stains the Colosseum doors” vs. Kanye: “Coke on black skin makes a stripe like a zebra — I call that jungle fever.” (Point, Mr. West.) Also weirdly neutralizing: More than one quote from the film Blades Of Glory. (Yes that one.) Otherwise, so far so good, though we are barely into it so far. So, comment party time: Snag the 16-track deluxe edition of Watch The Throne over at iTunes (physical release is out 8/12 via Def Jam, with the deluxe edition exclusively at Best Buy until 8/22), and go H.A.M. below.

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Comments (81)
  1. Flockiaveli is the album Waka Flocka Flame made with a million dollars, now imagine what we would make with a BILLION dollars…

    I never expected this album to be so heavily Brick Squad influenced but this album basically boils down to hardcore trap music for CEOs. They sprinkle on a little old school Kanye soul and some classic Jay-Z radio appeal for good measure but it still comes across like a more artful version of Gucci Mane’s ignorant magnum opus “The State vs. Radric Davis”

    It wasn’t what I was expecting so I would be lying if I said I wasn’t thrown off/disappointed on my first listen but it is very good for what it is. Perfect for cruising down dark roads with your bass turned up and your higher brain functions turned off.

    • This seems like a big over-generalization to me (one you’d make after 1 or 2 listens to “H.A.M” and nothing else). Sure, there is some of that Gucci influence in here, even a line about ‘sophisticated ignorance’, but the Otis sample, the Frank Ocean/Mr. Hudson features, and the overall production value give it a lot more to offer than “trap music for CEOs”…

  2. This album sounds like the sonic analogue of being really ridiculously wealthy. Like other ye’ projects the productions are fresh but the rappings a little lackluster. Also it seems like there’s a bunch of pro-black messages in the choruses with very little substance in the verses to back it up.

  3. “They opened up a bar called Living Hell / Right from the start it didn’t go too well”

  4. Just a cynical cash-grab for both artists, trading on the inevitable hype that comes from coupling their “name-brands” together.

    • are you sure you’re not the cynical one?? Are you telling me you wouldn’t make an album with the man that made you famous, a friend as well, so you both could win awards, gain critical acclaim, and make a shit ton of money?? What’s wrong with that?? It’s rap not indie music.. Selling out is what Rap is about.. duh. You need to watch the latest episode of South Park.

    • I think they made this album because it was fun.

  5. Listening to this is exactly the same as NOT listening to this.

  6. It’s easy to like and hard to love. It lacks the sonic experimentation and eclecticism of MBDTF or the big pop moments that made Blueprint 3 worthwhile.

    That said, both the Frank Ocean tracks are great and I really like “New Day” and I think the lyrics (while unspectacular in places) are pretty consistently good.

    • Yeah, why can’t Frank Ocean be on more tracks. Fantastic.

    • Blueprint 3 was worthwhile? lol How dare you mention MBDTF and Blueprint 3 in the same sentence, that’s sacrilege. lmfao jk

      But it’s interesting that you like New Day. Being that it’s from RZA and Kanye proclaimed it was “that Wu shit” I expected something more in the vein of “Hollow Bones” but it wasn’t bad.

  7. This is the single best piece of music i have ever listened to in my entire fucking life. I am not being overblown or exaggerated with this statement, I am simply being honest.

  8. hmmm, did Jay-Z go back on his statement “Death of Auto-tune”?

  9. woozefa  |   Posted on Aug 8th, 2011 +27

    never heard of either of these guys.

  10. Two Jon Heder references in as many albums; the throne belongs to Kanye.

  11. i’m too busy being poor to listen to this record.

  12. Can someone hire Amrit an editor? All of his sentences are so congested and poorly structured. It’s as if he has ADD, a thesaurus, and 6 grams of coke when he writes.

  13. I wanted to like it, I really did, but it’s just kind of boring and at times even annoying. Overall, it sounds like Kanye needs to lock himself in a room doing 5 beats a day for 3 summers.

  14. I really only got into Kanye at MBDTF and i really didn’t think he was good until then. It definitely isn’t a listeners album like MBDTF, and it’s not nearly as consistent as it either. Like Nathan said up there, it’s definitely trap music for CEO’s.

  15. I think the album’s title is in reference to what you’ll be doing after you listen to the album. Very meta.

  16. Its good I like it. The beat on ‘Thats My Bitch’ is fantastic. Not as good as Shabazz Palaces-Black Up IMO but there are a few gems. Lift Off is awful.

  17. I would give twenty Kanye+Jay-Z songs for just one with both Andre and Big Boi.

    • I’ve been sucking Kanye’s dick like 100 times over for the past 5 years but I agree, as good as Sir Lucious Leftfoot was, more of those true Outkast joints would be wonderful. “Lookin For Ya” and “Royal Flush” were soooo fresh but you can’t help wishing for a nice full-length from those two.

    • That would make sense since Andre and Big Boi were Outkast first and foremost. Jay and Kanye are two solo artists doing an album together. But would you give twenty Kanye or Jay-Z songs for just one from either Big Boi or Andre? Not so sure.

  18. Blasting this is pure bliss. This is challenging me as a listener, but I’m sure as hell banging my head. Everyone agree Frank Ocean is the standout here? #SOULSWAG

    • Frank Ocean is always the standout.

      • Sorry but I disagree. I know I’m going to get like hundred thumbs down for this but here goes: Firstly his lyrics aren’t anything special and his singing is only a notch above Drake’s monotonous voice.

        I praise Frank Ocean for injecting something fresh into the R&B(/Pop) scene but here he didn’t do much at all to me (kinda like Jay-Z…yeah I said it….he could have went in harder). The only thing that stood out about No Church in the Wild was the beat and I thought
        Made In America was plain pathetic for all parties involved.

        As a standalone artist I’m not really a fan but I respect his originality in the midst of all these cookie-cutter music industry friendly so called R&B singers. Here he’s just a voice (he’s not listed as a writer for any of the track he’s on) and there are plenty out there that are better (Bilal, Dwele, Raheem DeVaugh etc.)

        Sorry, just my opinion.

        • i agree! His voice isn’t THAT good. Totally reminds me of Drake. He’s just trendy to love right now in certain circles.

          • Anytime someone suggests that people listen to something because it’s “trendy,” I’m a little bemused.

            I like Frank Ocean because he’s great, not because “certain circles” have deemed it necessary. I don’t think his voice is spectacular, but his melodies, delivery, and lyrics are.

  19. Ok. So… is it going to get a 10.0 from pitchfork?

  20. I love the feel of it and the idea of it, but both of these guys have done so much better.

    Frank Ocean owns it. Love “Otis,” “New Day,” and “Murder To Excellence.”

    But all this buzzy heaviness is sort of lame. Kanye is a fantastic producer. I wish he would have taken the reigns a bit more on this. I kind of miss feel-good Kanye (like “Good Friday” and “See Me Now” from the G.O.O.D. Friday songs or some of his classics).

  21. The sonic presence that Jay/Ye chose for this wasn’t really what I was expecting at all. Supposedly, a couple of these tracks were written and thrown down before the release of My Beautiful Dark… because Kanye chose to include a couple of the WTT tracks on MBDTF and G.O.O.D. Fridays (stuff like So Appalled, the Power remix, etc.). This is surprising to me because MBDTF felt pretty “concept album”-ey. That being said, the fact that WTT is kind of a mixed bag and doesn’t flow half as well as either of these artists latest solo albums isn’t really surprising.

    After “Otis” came out, I was really hoping that more of this would follow. I don’t know if I’m alone in thinking that H.A.M totally sucked. After that came out, I lost all excitement for WTT, but “Otis” changed things. Aside from the sample itself, the song is really simple – just a handful of great verses by two great rappers. I feel like Jay and Ye could sit down in a studio with a bag of simplistic minimalist beats and go back and forth for an hour and make a fantastic album. WTT didn’t NEED to be sonically complex. Songs like “new day” give a glimpse of that. But what makes WTT both more and less than what I was expecting is the fact that it’s not. Songs like “no church in the wild”, “lift off”, “made in america” and others remind us that both of these excellent artists can continue to reinvent the game. But in other places, I felt like there was too much production and not enough of what makes me love both of these artists – excellent delivery and memorable verses.

    This album wasn’t what I was hoping for, but it’s still good. This is, in my opinion, the only evidence that Jay Z and Kanye are getting older. This album doesn’t have the edge that Blueprint 3 and My Beautiful Dark had AT ALL. It’s like a great B-Sides album – a bunch of stuff that you are glad you can finally hear, but not an “album”. That being said, glad Frank Ocean is on two of the tracks. I gotta hand it to the guy – he got damn lucky that the Odd Future fad popped up on the radar while WTT was looking for a crooner. I’ll happily be blasting this in the car with friends, but I guarantee I won’t be pulling it out six or eight months later the same way I did with both of these artists’ last one or two albums.

    • I totally agree. This seems like a mixed bag, not a focused album. And I could do without “HAM,” “N*ggas In Paris,” “Who Gon Stop Me,” etc. This hard, heavy, Eminem shit is boring. BORING. And a little silly.

      Although, I don’t think BP3 had much “edge.” Gotta disagree there.

  22. MBDTF was pretty close to a concept album and this seems to me more like a mixtape. Not taking anything away from it though, it’s still a well produced, million dollar mix-tape from some of the best rap talent around.

    • I would agree CT

    • If I understand what you’re saying, to you this feels more like a compilation of assorted tracks then something like MBDTF which obviously had a theme it followed. I would agree 100%. I think that’s why i like Kanye’s albums cause they always have a solid theme. Unfortunately since this isn’t technically his I guess he said fuck it let’s just put out some tracks to “feed the streets”. And what we’re left with is – and you nailed it – a mixtape with over a million dollars of funding behind it…..not a bad thing.

  23. My ears came all over my keyboard. Shit is fire. This is state-of-the-art hip-hop.

  24. well, that was a boring and disappointing hour – aside from the curtis mayfield bonus track, which is actually pretty solid. also, why does everyone have such a hard on for frank ocean? he sounds like a standard hook-man to me, and not much else… without using the word “swag,” tell me what i’m missing here.

    • I mean he’s the hook man on these tracks, but if you listen to Nostalgia/Ultra, he’s the most talented (and mature) member of the OF crew lyrically. He captures the OF uneasiness that makes them more than just a bunch of kids spouting clever rape lines but in a way that seems more genuine and is a whole lot less vulgar and shock-artisty. And he can trick a listener into thinking he’s all about swag or whatever by opening a song talking about the 808s on his car before dropping a really well-placed line like “I’m about to drive into the ocean/i’m a try to swim from something bigger than me.” He’s also as good a pop songwriter as any r&b artist around right now, so that the fact that he’s a really strong lyricist also is super exciting.

      • being the most mature member of OFWGKTA is almost a negative. He is a solid singer, but there are better, and the ‘maturity’ winds up working against him because he lacks the love-em-or-hate-em aspect that makes OF hypeworthy to begin with. Not a bad artist, and his wordplay is above-average, but I’m not waiting expectantly for his next track like I am with most of his mates.

        • Things like ” the love-em-or-hate-em aspect” or being “hypeworthy” are hugely uninteresting to me and shouldn’t be considered a musical attribute.

          Frank Ocean has great songs.

          • Fair enough, I chose my words poorly when i said hypeworthy. My issue with Frank Ocean is that after listening to both his album and his efforts on Watch the Throne, nothing really sets him apart from the throngs of R&B singers with nice voices and a decent knack for lyrics. His fellow OF member Tyler has managed to set himself apart from the crowd (for better or for worse) in a way that I’m not sure Frank will ever be able to do.

      • nice. well, i’ll definitely check out nostalgia/ultra, on the basis of that comment. i actually wasn’t even aware that he’s done anything other than the hooks on this and goblin – and presumably on the radical mixtape, although i couldn’t even tell you which songs he might be on. a lot of this OF stuff (that is, the stuff that i’ve heard) has been hit or miss for me, but when it’s good, it’s pretty damn good.

    • Yeah, but “The Joy” was a GOOD Friday song. It’s a hold over from the MBDTF sessions, so I wouldn’t give Watch The Throne much credit for including it. There were other GOOD Friday songs that were better than a lot of the songs on here…

      • ah, ok. well in that case, i really don’t care for this album at all, haha.

        and now that i’m looking into it a bit, i see that pete rock produced “the joy” – explains a lot as to why i dig it.

  25. It boils down to good beats and lackluster lyrics. it’s only so many times i can listen to Jay-Z talking about buying this and that with his black card. And the staccato flow he utilizes here makes me miss the Reasonable Doubt era Jay even more. Kanye on the other hand was pretty much “red suit rocking a gigantic pharaoh necklace Kanye” which he’s very good at and even though he seemingly rapped less on this album then Jay (I guess cause he produced most of the tracks) I would give the nod to him in regards to who was lyrically superior on this album.

    MBDTF was about excess, this album is as well the only thing is on WTT the excess has a cliched one dimensional feel whereas on MBDTF it was more fleshed out exploring all the dimensions of excess, the good and the bad. Plus as mentioned before the beats on MBDTF were much more eclectic and the lyrics more introspective.

    Also, if I may be idiosyncratic, I thought it was really awkward when at the end of “Who Gon Stop Me” Jay-Z raps “…black strap you know what that’s for” and this line segues into Murder for Excellence which is like a PSA against murder in the black community. On one hand Jay-Z is glamorizing it (albeit facetiously) and then on the very next track he’s admonishing it. I thought that was interestingly convoluted.

    It’s obvious this was more about money hence the deal they struck with Itunes, however, that’s not to diminish the fact that they did mange to put together a good album…not great but good.

    Though call me a hater I think that if two of the top rappers in the game join forces it should only be logical that they produce something GREAT.

  26. go listen to ‘childish prodigy’ instead, your ears will thank you, rather than write a letter to their congressman.

  27. I agree with this review: http://frontpsych.com/2011/08/08/expectations-an-absurdly-rushed-review-of-watch-the-throne/

    The record itself is a mixed bag, but there are a couple really excellent songs on it.

  28. When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.

  29. not the greatest…i don’t listen to much hip hop but nothing about this blew me away like MBDTF did. i like shabazz palaces better from this year at least.

  30. I love it. I like it better then Twisted Fantasy…I know i’m in minority. I just think it’s catchier

  31. Enjoy it while it lasts Kan-Jay, but Das Racist is coming for you. Just keep watching that throne for proof.

  32. Speaking of music, does anybody else miss Haunting the Chapel? I keep waiting for brandon’s P4K metal updates and keep not seeing anything. Alas.

  33. WTT is an entertaining album, at it’s very core. When Kanye is saying “So basically Russell ain’t the only Russell”, you just have to take the album for what it is. It’s certainly not Jay and Kanye’s greatest lyrical work, and the album doesn’t even really feature their lyrics. The beats are so epic, loud and powerful that the lyrics can’t be really featured. The album sounds exactly as the album art looks; grandiose and ostentatious. Except for “Murder to Excellence” the album is full of classic Maybach-themed lines about their wealth and their ladies, and maybe that’s all they wanted to do. At it’s very core, the album is amusing, and after all, it is Kanye West and Jay-Z. Album of the year? No. Groundbreaking music? No. But a good listen? Surely. It’s not a classic album, it’s just classic.

  34. I’m waiting for Frank Ocean’s meteoric “blow up” now. I know Novacane has already found a way on a lot of top 40 stations, but I remember when Kid Cudi was still unknown to most except for rap bloggers, then was featured heavily on “808s and Heartbreak” and now you can’t go anywhere in youth culture without references or inspiration from him. But anyways….I think the album is good, albeit disappointing, because Jay-Z is slowly becoming extremely cliche and washed up and Kanye’s beats are in no way spectacular on any of the tracks.

    • “Swim Good” is even better than “Novacane” for me. And I’m pretty sure Nostalgia/Ultra is getting an official re-release, so I won’t be surprised if he blows up. His sophomore album will be the real test, though.

  35. I just finished listening to this album and i cant say i have a favorite song. I didn’t even want to listen to it again. I feel like Kanye didn’t put forth the effort on this, it seemed like he lazily put this together just to say he did it! i want another MBDTF type album even though i know i want get that. Jay-Z was terrible on this! i’m very disappointed. Good job Frank Ocean!

    • Jay-Z was terrible on this! Agreed
      Good job Frank Ocean! What? When? Where? Why? and How?

      • The opinion that Jay was “terrible” on this album must be coupled with unrealistic expectations of what Jay is offering these days. Reasonable Doubt is ancient history- and considering that this is the same Hova that lulled us to sleep with almost all of American Gangster and the majority of BP3, I couldn’t have asked for much more from him. He’s THE definitve living veteran of hip-hop. His rhymes don’t have the furious edge of someone trying to come up in the game- he’s made it a hundred times over. His versus here where just as enjoyable as his MBDTF cameos.

    • I have to agree with the sentiment “good job Frank Ocean”, simply because of the accomplishment. Kid has come really far in a really short time. No, he didn’t particularly add anything that, say, Drake couldn’t have… but his name ISN’T Drake. He doesn’t have a major release going double platinum. He isn’t a Young Money millionaire. He’s a kid that went from hanging out with Tyler, to featuring on an album with two modern pop legends. I’m actually one of the few who don’t dislike Drake, but if he had been in Ocean’s place, the album would have instantly lost value to me.

  36. Am I the only who never got into either one?

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