Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne
I guess this is the “biggest” hip hop release of the year, so I thought I would take a listen. I went in expecting it to be pretty bad and for the most part it was. There were a few moments that surprised me, but overall it was pretty much what I expected. With rare exception, the beats are nothing special, Jay’s lyrics are decent, but don’t detour much from what we’ve heard before. As for Kanye’s lyrics, I’ve never thought he was a good emcee and he does nothing to change my impression of him. For someone with such an ego, you would think he’d have the skills to back it up….
Here are a few overall thoughts about the album:
- I find it kinda of ironic for an album which pretty much celebrates capitalism in all of its excess was released on a day that the stock market plummeted.
- This album, along with most of Jay’s & Kanye’s albums, has validated my long standing belief that once a rapper is successful and gets away from the struggles that inspired their early work, they lose their fire. It happened with Ice Cube. It happened with Eminem. It happened with Nas.
- It’s a shame that artists like these are unwilling to truly push the envelope, instead they flirt with experimentation but ultimately fall back to their status quo.
Here’s a track by track breakdown of my initial thoughts as I listen to the album:
- No Church in the Wild – I like the bassline & drums, but didn’t care for the synth lines. Jay’s verse is cool, but Kanye’s is pretty weak, as usual. The chorus is OK, but the autotuned section befores Kanye’s verse is dirt.
- Lift Off – no good. Don’t care for Beyonce and the beat is real week, pretty standard.
- N***** In Paris – The beat is sorta of interesting but doesn’t really work overall.
- OTIS – Really lacking anything of redeeming value, even the Otis Redding hook is wasted here.
- Gotta Have It – Pure dirt….week beat, weak samples, boring lyrics.
- New Day – Weak drums + Autotune = Horrible Song
- That’s My Bitch – I like the drums, a tribal vibe. The synth lines and old school samples are cool. I actually liked the lyrics somewhat. Don’t really care for the chorus. Overall not bad.
- Welcome to the Jungle – Don’t like the beat, kinda of a boring song.
- Who Gon Stop Me – Don’t like the beat, pretty annoying club type beat.
- Murder to Excellence – I think I like this song. The beat is cool, like the guitar, Jays verse is cool. Kanye’s is nothing special but it doesn’t ruin the song. I like the way the beat breaks down as the song changes, but the first half had a message and the second half, while there is a message in there, it comes off as more braggadocios.
- Made in America – Not sure about this one. I likeFrank Oceans chrous. The beat is cool, but it is missing something
- Why I Love You – Musically its trying to be grandiose but it fails to me and ends up just being boring.
- Illest Muthaf***** Alive – Weak
- H.A.M – Dirt
- Primetime – Like the beat
- The Joy – Just not good, wasted Curtis Mayfield samples.
So, at least in my opinion, the biggest rap release of the year is just dirt. There are so many better artists out there and it’s a shame that those artists get overlooked for something like this.