Monday, August 22, 2011

Watch The Throne - Album Review

After a good two weeks of deliberation, I thought I'd give a go at writing a review for Watch The Throne. I don't know exactly how I am going to do it, so if it seems all over the place I'll give you a pre "My Bad".

Anyways, unless you live under a rock in the north shores of the Arctic Circle, you know what Watch The Throne is. It's a collaboration album between Jay-Z and Kanye West that initially started off as a 5-6 song EP but evolved into a 12 song LP (16 if you have the deluxe edition).

What makes the album so epic has to deal with the process of how it was created. With technology these days it is easy to send beats, verses, hooks, etc over the internet for people to collab on songs. There are times that artists never meet in person but create a collaboration solely through the internet. Kanye and Jay didn't choose that option. They instead recorded every song together, in the same room/studio. Majority of the album was done in hotel rooms across the world; from New York to Paris to Australia. Nothing about the album was done with the help of the internet, anytime they recorded the songs they made sure that Wi-Fi was off on their laptops so there was no chance of hacking. Their executive producers had portable hard drives that contained all of the songs and were only accessible through fingerprint scanners. They were serious. To top everything off, they released the album digitally on iTunes 5 days before the physical copy and thus becoming one of the highest profile album releases to not be leaked. A blogger that I follow on twitter said it best, "people are actually mad that the album didn't leak." What's more amazing is that they really didn't have much promotion. Usually artists prep their album with singles, videos and other promotional tools. Their 2nd single, Otis, premiered a week or so before the album dropped. They truly sold this album off of their own popularity. A major feat that no one can take away from them. Enough with background, lets get to the music.

The album, in my opinion, is a classic. The production is top notch and if you know Kanye, he is not going to allow something to not be perfect. The beats have a very epic, orchestral feel to them and the placement of each song is very strategic. When people heard Otis for the first time, many of the criticisms that I heard was "how does this fit in the album?", but once you give the album a listen to it doesn't come off as odd. Also doesn't hurt that the video looked like they were having a ball. The album doesn't feature any other rappers but does feature 3 singers, who only offer their talents on the hooks. Jay-Z and Kanye wanted to make sure this album was all about them. Frank Ocean, the Odd Future R&B up and comer, is featured on two songs, No Church in the Wild and Made In America. His features aren't forced and he sounds great on the songs that he assists on. Beyonce features on the 2nd track, Lift Off, which definitely can be cast off as your typical radio track but is saved because of the beat drop at the end of the song. Mr. Hudson is featured on the final track, Why I Love You, and is not obtrusive in anyway.

The album is mixed with hard hitting production and the usual "I got so much money it will make your head explode" talk that you would expect from these two artists, but what really stands out are the tracks where they are actually rapping about content. The track, New Day, has both of the rappers talking to their feature sons and even apologizing what type of life they are going to bring them into. The other track, Murder to Excellence, is the best example of what I am saying. The first half of the track talks about the seriousness of black on black violence that occurs to in our everyday life. Kanye raps, "feel the pain in my city wherever I go/314 soldiers died in Iraq / 509 died in Chicago." The track then switches up and talks about how we (as in black people) must achieve excellence and must strive to achieve something more than what we are used to seeing. Jay raps, "Only spot a few blacks the higher I go /What’s up to Will /Shoutout to O/That ain’t enough /We gon need a million more", which is him basically saying, he is tired of not seeing black people at this high profile events or anything else but does feel that it is possible that can change. The track is a clever way to compare the negativity and positivity of blacks in America.

Let it be known, while Kanye and Jay-Z are dropping knowledge on those tracks, they also have the songs that will get you moving. Welcome to the Jungle is being touted as one of Swizz Beatz's best beats ever, as if he was sitting on it for a special occasion. Who Gon Stop Me uses a sample of a dub step song entitled "I Can't Stop" and Jay-Z spazzes on it. And the song that you are waiting for me to comment on, Niggas in Paris, is probably one of the best tracks on the CD. It's the perfect s**t talking track with a powerful beat and hilarious punch lines.

If you are a fan of either one of the artists, the album is definitely worth the pick up. If you aren't a fan, it at least deserves a listen because of the hard work that was put into it. All in all, its definitely a must purchase album that ups the bar for any future albums, but lets be real, anytime Kanye or Jay-Z releases an album, isn't that what they do anyways.

Favorite tracks

Niggas in Paris
No Church in the Wild
Gotta Have It
Murder to Excellence

Aniz Ansari, who somehow is good friends with Kanye, made these pictures with lyrics from the album and called them Watch The Throne Comics. I found them funny, here is one

No comments: