Kelsey Hess: Staff Writer
Mere hours after Kanye West and Jay-Z’s new collaborative album was finally released on August 8 at 12:01 AM, the album kicked off its fame as #1 on iTunes. West’s last album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, is still in the iTunes Top 100 and the new album’s success is certainly promising. As if it’s not assuring enough pairing up two of the greatest rappers of all time, the inspiring artists undoubtedly prove themselves worthy of the hype surrounding their newest release, Watch the Throne.
Watch the Throne is an instant rival to West and Z’s past albums. It has a very distinct sound, dissimilar to anything the artists have previously recorded. The album is different then your typical rap album, sounding more Gold Digger and less Blame Game. The album commences with “No Church in the Wild,” featuring Frank Ocean from OFWGKTA. The song opens the album with an old western, R&B, angry silence, someone-just-flashed-a-pistol-in-the–pub vibe.
The whole album is filled with instant hits, but some stars shine brighter than others. There are more uplifting songs on this album than either of the artists has ever included in a single compilation, and the positivity makes Watch the Throne an easier listening set. “Lift Off” (featuring Beyoncé), “Why I Love You” (featuring Mr. Hudson), and “That’s My B**ch” are more Jay-Z sounding than Kanye, with pop integration as the emphasis of the song. However, the straightforward and catchy choruses are uplifting enough to be an immediate favorite, especially when a listener is not in the mood for such an intense ballad. The incredibly memorable choruses and rapping make these three some of the best selections from the album.
As far as legitimate rapping goes, the artists’ haven’t re-vamped themselves completely. “N**as in Paris,” “Gotta Have It,” “Welcome to the Jungle,”and “Who Gon Stop Me” are sure to be instant classics, emphasizing the talented collaboration between Jay-Z and West.
The songs that aren’t upbeat pop or rap include “No Church in the Wild” and “Made in America” (featuring Frank Ocean), and “Otis” (featuring Otis Redding). These are a kind of R&B song that make the duo shine. The electrifying combinations of classic soul with Z or West’s accompaniment are by far the best on the album. As for “Made in America,” Jay-Z and Kanye West discuss their different approaches to fame. And, knowing West and Z, their lifestyles are polar opposites, and West is seldom open to others controlling him, elucidated in “Who Gon Stop Me.”
As for the rest of the songs, ”New Day,” “Murder to Excellence,” “Illest Motherf**ker Alive,” “H.A.M,” “Primetime,” and “The Joy,” the best are definitely not saved for the last. Their sounds are much more My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy depressing, but the work of an amateur – at best. These hurt the album incredibly, and threaten to bring down the album completely. These failed songs are perhaps some of the most controversial of the album, and it’s a shame they don’t get the discussions they deserve. For example, “Murder to Excellence” compares reported deaths from the crime rates in Chicago to the death toll in Iraq – an intriguing concept, but the execution of the song does not deliver.
Kanye West and Jay-Z make an excellent team, there’s no doubt about it. Ten of sixteen of the tracks on Watch the Throne are excellent, with captivating concepts and catchy sounds.