Albums, Videos

Jay-Z & Kanye | Watch The Throne

3 Comments 22 | August | 2011

Kanye has come a long way since his early days of beat-making and dodging death.  While unquestionably talented and (in)famous the world over, the long time Roc-A-Fella Records producer turned contentious and volatile MC has previously existed on an echelon below his boss, Jay-Z.  On Graduation’s “Big Brother, Kanye depicted this relationship and spelled out the envy and frustration between himself and the messianic HOVA.  Now 11 years after the college dropout made Jesus walk, he’s finally achieved savior status alongside his mentor.

But instead of usurping the throne there seems to be an arrangement in place.  This is a far cry from the bullet-riddled 90’s where ascension of this magnitude was subject to territorial pissing contests that robbed the industry of its greatest talent.  It’s unclear how this power will be shared, but perhaps they have familiarized themselves with Britain’s coalition government.  Maybe that’s why Jay-Z has been shouting out “D to the Avid, C to the Ameron” at recent sets.  And I’ve heard that Nick Clegg fancies himself the Ye of Parliament.  Or maybe he’s just referring to his voting habits.

I could focus on the details of how the throne (singular) will be shared (likely a convoluted version of musical chairs dubbed “Lyrical Thrones,” in which rappers pimp limp in a circle while the DJ du jour drops beats and whoever finds himself sporting a lap when beat stops is proclaimed his Highness), but I’ll stick to the music that has been born of the dual kingship.

The unfortunate truth is that this joint venture’s biggest boon is also its biggest obstacle:  H-Y-P-E.

Doomed to be judged against a standard that is simply “twice as good as a Kanye or Jay-Z album,” Watch the Throne will fail to score a 19.3 out of 10 in 193% of music publications and blog sites worldwide.  Just wait.

Not that fans shouldn’t get excited for such a thorough collaboration of rap’s megastars, but the expectations need to be tempered.  For example, I looooove Ranch dressing  and I am also quite fond of donuts, but there’s no algebraic relationship that proves a glazed buttermilk bar injected with Hidden Valley Ranch will produce a doubling of happiness.

Or will it?………


The answer is no.  Absolutely not.

But you already knew this.  Not the donut thing, the Supergroup Theory.  Rarely, if ever, is a supergroup the true summation of its parts.  It’s more like salivating over the menu pictures at Burger King only to be served a tepid burger stripped from the bones of a withered 80-year old cow raised in a New York City loft.

What the hell was I talking about?! Oh yeah, Kan-Jay and Ye-Z.

The Throne displays signature elements from both rappers; Jay-Z’s flawless flow and obsession with the Mercedes Maybach; Kanye’s sanctimonious, “look who’s on top of the world now, muthaf*ckas” mind-set; and both test the tread on some rhymes lifted from their earlier releases.

A Kanye standby, various tracks from the album feature samples from old soul singers.  Lead single “Otis” depends so heavily on the Otis Redding track “Try a Little“ that it earned the late great a credit right in the song title (i.e. “Otis (feat. Otis Redding)”).  This is a big step in the world of sampling and it makes me wonder…if this becomes the trend what the hell is going to happen to Girl Talk?!

Girl Talk – Once Again (feat. Ciara (feat Petey Pablo), N’sync, Fabolous, Ludacris (feat. Bobby V), Five Stairsteps, Boston, Genesis, Arrested Development, Boredoms, Oasis, The Verve, Eminem, Ying Yang Twins, Young Jeezy (feat. Mannie Fresh), Slim Thug (feat. Pharrell and Bun B), Webbie (feat. Bun B))

With or without the help of legendary musicians, these rap demigods have delivered an album with enough substance to captivate the industry for the remainder of the “back to school” period.  As evidenced by the footage in the video for “Otis” the pair is out to have fun and neither of them is particularly concerned whether The Throne sits atop critics lists at the end of the year…decade…or millennium.  Nor are they worried about the fact that a) not all of the passengers have properly fastened their seatbelts, b) I’m pretty sure the side airbags have been disabled, c) the homies that pimped their ride put the trunk where the hood should be, and d) Aziz Anzari snuck onto the set, yo!  What are they big Parks and Rec fans?!  Traffic violations and Aziz sightings aside, if these two kings are out gallivanting around in a gutted Maybach, it begs the question, who the hell is watching the throne?

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Where can I find a list of supergroups to judge for myself if they’re ever successful?  Funny you should ask.  Here is where Wikipedia stands on the subject.

Why wasn’t Beyonce featured on the track “That’s My Bitch”?  Apparently Jay-Z isn’t stupid enough to give his wife a reason to Take a Ring Off It.

Kanye West | Runaway

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