I know I can’t really get away with calling Jay-Z “Hova” and Kanye West “Yeezy,” but it’s impossible not to do it after listening to this album. I feel like I know these guys now. (And I want to hang out with them even more after watching this video.)
The kings of modern rap have done it. They’ve amped up an album way too much, and they’ve still managed to exceed my expectations. Granted, Watch the Throne is no My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but it’s a really solid collaboration, and one that I’ll be spinning for quite some time. My rap education has only recently begun, so pardon my novice viewpoint.
Hova and Yeezy are different dudes. The former is in his 40s, married to arguably the hottest woman in the world, far removed from his gritty upbringing, and beloved by most. The latter is in his 30s, outspoken and brash, enemies with many, and far from settled down. Neither compromises his style on the album, which actually results in some dissonance (if you can call it that), but dissonance is good. It’s not so much a concept album (a la “Fantasy”) as it is a collection of interesting thoughts by two very interesting guys. Sometimes they seem like they’re trying to crank out a club hit (“Lift Off,” “H*a*m”), sometimes they’re being silly (“That’s My Bitch”), sometimes they’re paying respect to the musicians who came before them (“Otis,” “The Joy”), and sometimes they’re thinking ahead for the children they see in their futures (“New Day”). Needless to say, the emotions are scattered and even unrelated, but they all come together somehow.
I’m partial to tracks like “Otis” and “The Joy” because I love when rappers sample really good shit, and soul music from Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield enhances anything that already has a good beat. (Stevie Wonder had Usher’s back in this one, for example.) But I also rap beats with rock flavor, like “Primetime,” “Why I Love You,” and my favorite on the album, “No Church in the Wild.” (I always dig opening tracks. So predictable.) The rhymes are incredible, as you’d expect, though I think their individual albums are a little more creative, but there are still some wicked one-liners I’d like to point out.
Kanye in “Primetime”: “Well, Adam gave up a rib so mine better be prime.”
Kanye in “Who Gon Stop Me”: “Niggas talking, they bitchmade, Ixnay off my dicksnay / That’s Pig Latin, itch-bay, who gon stop me huh?”
Jay-Z in “Welcome to the Jungle”: “I’m a tortured soul, I live in disguise / Rest in peace to the leader of the Jackson 5 / I died in my sleep, I’m still Big Pimpin’ / I ball at the mall, beginning of the ending.”
So… listen to this album. It’s historical. Period. I wish the tickets to see Hova and Yeezy live weren’t so damn steep, otherwise I’d be front row, the whitest girl in the building, and I wouldn’t even care. I’m just glad to be around while these two men are in their prime.