The wait is over. Kanye West (fresh from his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy high) and Jay-Z (still retired from retirement) have finally surrendered their keenly anticipated collaborative effort Watch the Throne to the public. After a year of teasing and false release dates, it seems like fans will finally be rewarded for all their waiting.
The opening track “No Church in the Wild” sells the album within the first few seconds. “Human being to the mob / What’s a mob to a king? / What’s a king to a god? / What’s a god to a non-believer / Who don’t believe in anything?”, so singsFrankOcean, who is featured in the song. These and many other lyrics are characteristic of the album’s audacity. Both Jay-Z and Kanye West’s styles are clear and unadjusted on every track, yet they remain compatible. Look out for “Otis”, “Gotta Have It” and “Welcome to the Jungle” – obvious winners. Skip through the uncomfortably experimental “Who Gon Stop Me”.
Smart and quotable lyrics peppered with social commentary and creative beats are this album’s main selling-point. The dark references in the songs and the imagery in the CD booklet will also keep fans busy with Illuminati rumours. Above all, the marriage of Jay-Z’s measured rhymes with Kanye West’s reckless bragging is interesting to observe, lending some unpredictability to each verse.
Expectedly (and disappointingly) most of the songs are produced around samples, something both of these artists should have outgrown a while ago. The only other complaint would have to be about the album’s lack of cohesion – at the end, all these well-meaning songs seem to wander in distinctly different directions. However, as hip hop continues to teach us: sometimes, the absence of a message is the intended message.