Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch the Throne
Record Label: Roc-a-Fella / Roc Nation / Def Jam
Release Date: August 8 2011
What do you get when you take of hip-hop’s most influential and talented artists and let them collaborate together? Well, you don’t get a punchline for a joke, but you get one hell of a record. The two artists are Jay-Z and Kanye West, and you must be living under a rock if you are not familiar with either of them. Well, or you just don’t follow hip-hop or music. Then again, both of these men are celebrities for other reasons, not only for their music. Regardless, in 2011, the two teamed up for Watch the Throne, a collaborative record that is most known for the track “Ni**as in Paris.” I had never heard that song until I bought this record, but when I did, I immediately fell in love with that song. It shows off Kanye and Jay-Z at their finest together. Both of them work well off one another in that track, and it really hits. The fact it was a huge single is rather surprising, because the song doesn’t have a standard structure. It doesn’t have a set in stone chorus, even though it does feature some repetition throughout. Nonetheless, it’s the most aggressive track on the record, which features both rappers at their finest. They do make a great team, and this record certainly proves it. I’m surprised they haven’t collaborated much since then, but they really should. I wouldn’t want to hear a Watch the Throne 2, but just another collaboration record would be awesome.
The other main thing that I enjoy about this record is how it’s quite odd, but still seems accessible. Kanye has always been a rather strange rapper (see new record Yeezus for a perfect example of that), but Jay-Z has always been much more accessible, and that’s ultimately why they are a good team. Kanye’s rather strange, while Jay-Z’s more accessibly and by-the-books, so his style goes well with Kanye. That’s what makes this record so great. Not to mention, the guest spots are just absolutely fantastic, specifically the two highlights, Frank Ocean and Beyonce. Frank Ocean appears in the first track “No Church In the Wild,” and tenth track “Made In America.” It only makes sense to include one of R&B’s rising stars on the record before his major label debut record (which was Channel Orange, released in 2012) was released. It would further create buzz about Ocean, which it did. Beyonce also makes an appearance on second track “Lift Off,” which is one of my favorite tracks on the record, actually. She had been married to Jay-Z for a few years, so collaborating with her was a no-brainer as well, especially for this record. You can’t go wrong with a track that features Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Beyonce. But I won’t say that there aren’t any songs that don’t do anything for me, or aren’t really that good. I hate to say it, but there are a couple songs that aren’t too great. There songs like “Ni**as In Paris,” fourth track “Otis” (that features Otis Redding), and ninth tracks “Who Gon Stop Me” that are really enjoyable, but there are songs like seventh and eighth tracks “That’s My Bitch” and “Welcome to the Jungle” that either don’t do for me, or just aren’t really all that enjoyable. Let’s start with the latter songs, though; “That’s My Bitch” is an interesting song, even if I don’t like it. It’s interesting, because it has two different points of view in it. It’s obviously about women, but Kanye and Jay-Z have two different ideas when it comes to treating women, apparently. Kanye is much much misogynistic, while Jay-Z’s verse is all about how much he loves Beyonce and how she deserves the world, which I like. His verse is enjoyable, but Kanye not so much. “Welcome to the Jungle” is a track that has some decent lyrics, but the beat is rather obnoxious.
The songs that are good are really good, though; “Ni**as In Paris” is ultimately the best song on the record, and the one that sums up the record nicely. I mentioned that already, but it’s worth mentioning again. There are more songs that I like than songs I don’t, including the few I mentioned, but a couple more. Tenth and eleventh tracks, “Murder to Excellence” and “Made In America.” I’ve mentioned the latter track in the beginning of the review, but it’s also worth mentioning again, because it’s a very enjoyable song. It’s all about America and how it’s certainly possible to become successful here. The former track is all about gang violence and it’s a really dark song, even if you can’t relate to what it’s about, like myself, considering I’m not African-American, but it’s still a thought-provoking track, nonetheless. Closing track “Why I Love You” is also a rather interesting track, even if it doesn’t do much for me. It’s a catchy song, and a nice little ending, but it falls to the middle for me, in terms of enjoyment. If there is one more thing that bugs me about this record, it’s that at the end of a few songs, there are some really odd “interludes” that slightly distract me from the record, because I don’t know if the song ended or if it’s from another one song or what. They’re cool, but they’re a bit confusing. Now, that’s just a nitpick, but it does get a bit bothersome after awhile. It’s something that can be easily overlooked, however, because this record is great. It’s the kind of record that I would’ve imagined from Jay-Z and Kanye, even if there are a few hiccups within it.