Despite being released way back in 2011, it can’t harm to review an album of Watch The Throne’s magnitude. Of course we all know about N***as In Paris, Otis and No Church In The Wild along with a lot of the album charting on the Hot 100 as well, many will know the bulk of Watch The Throne anyway, and why not? It’s a collaborative album by two of the heavyweights of rap.
The production style, mainly handled by Kanye, is very much in the same vein as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and as such cover a lot of the same themes and imagery, but by no means is this repetitive or disappointing. If Watch The Throne were to be measured on a graph of quality it would make a U shape; the best tracks are at the beginning and the end, and the more vigilant of you will notice the Frank Ocean featured tracks are at the beginning and end, something indicative of the quality levels.
With Kanye citing Jay as his ‘big brother’ throughout his career, it’s clear from the get go this is ultimately Kanye’s project with Jay Z almost taking a back seat, this is encapsulated with Lift Off, with Kanye dropping verses around a Beyonce hook with JAY Z only having a tiny four line verse, which I thought was odd. As such, the most exciting sequences of Watch The Throne come from Mr West rather than Mr Carter; finishing the biggest hit, N***as In Paris with the stand out verse of the album, contrapuntal screams at the end of Otis anddropping lines like ‘this ain’t a fashion show motherfucka we livin’. However, strangely what this results in is visualisations of JAY Z perched upon ‘the throne’ watching Kanye West doing all of the work and hassle while he sits back and drops effortless (yet excellent) verses, ‘the streets raised me, pardon my bad manners’.
The album continues solidly with the Nina Simone sampling New Day, which for me is the best track on the album, however at this point the album falls off for the next three tracks as they aren’t anything special, including a bizarrely obscure take on Flux Pavillion’s I Can’t Stop, which is nothing but odd. However, the quality of the beginning is revisited with Murder To Excellence, Made In America and the explosive outro Why I Love You featuring Mr Hudson.
There’s some intriguing production, sampling and guest spots on Watch The Throne, and the album is genuinely exciting to listen to, a few tracks including the frustratingly berating Welcome To The Jungle cluster the album, but a full collaborative LP from rap’s biggest figures was always going to be difficult to live up to- the world ultimately expects nothing less than perfection. It’s by no means perfect unfortunately, but it certainly is an excellent album, Kanye West and JAY Z have set the benchmark for a modern collaborative album that as of yet, has nowhere near been matched.