Compilation album, ‘Watch The Throne’, is dressed to impress

An Introduction: In the classic film “The Wizard Of Oz,” Dorothy asks the brainless yet lovable Scarecrow the way to the emerald city. He replies by pointing both east and west. Likewise, if someone were to ask me the direction this blog is going I would cross my arms and point with both hands. All I know is that I’ll be putting my all into these posts and I hope you enjoy this pseudo-hipster ride.

In 2010, the “redemption of Kanye West” came in the form of his acclaimed LP, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” (my personal favorite hip-hop album of all time). Once completed, he came out of the shadows of regret to bask in the glory of his newest masterpiece. While the CD was great, Kanye used most of the rhymes within to atone for his wrong-doings and to partially call out those who had wronged him.

Alongside him on some of the more potent songs on the album was longtime pal Jay-Z, who gave Kanye his first mainstream shot on his 2002 record, “The Blueprint.” Since that album, the duo has featured each other on their own separate works, always musing the idea of a compilation record between the two.

Enter “Watch The Throne,”—the most highly anticipated hip-hop album of 2011—the final product of the once fantasized idea of Kanye and Jay-Z come to fruition.

The album opens with a bang. The driving bass line of ‘No Church In The Wild’ is the essence of the song; the free thumping drive that both pumps life into the album, and sparks an unstoppable beat in the listener. It carries a gospel base that flows with the pent-up rhymes of Jay-Z and Kanye and the auto-tune stylings that made Kanye’s last album so prolific.

When it comes to the hard hitting songs on the album, my favorites include: “Otis (feat Otis Redding)”, “Who Gon’ Stop Me”, and “Why I Love You (feat Mr. Hudson)”. The song that stakes the claim that Jay-Z invented swag and Kanye added his own couture and flow ,“Otis”, is reminiscent of the sampling that Kanye did with the iconic “Gold Digger”, utilizing the wailing of Otis Redding as opposed to Ray Charles.

Concept-wise my stand-out track is “New Day”. Sampling the great Nina Simone’s recording of “Feeling Good”, the two icons muse on the lives of their unborn children. The wit and tongue in cheek rhymes include but are not limited to: “And I’ll never let my son have an ego / He’ll be nice to everyone, wherever we go / I mean I might even make ‘em be Republican / So everybody know he love white people.”

For the most part, I can stomach most of the songs on the album, save two. ‘Liftoff (feat. Beyonce)’ and ‘Made In America (feat. Frank Ocean)’ both present the exact same problem: They’re too soft, too laid back, with little to no purpose or aim to speak of, not to mention plain uninspired rapping from both parties. In my mind, it begs the question: if two god-awful tracks made the album, then why didn’t some of the more inspiring bonus tracks make the cut?

Prior to the release of the album speculation was raised as to the point that a compilation album between arguably two of the most successful rappers of the past decade would lead to a battle of the big egos. But for the most part, the trade off between the two is relatively equal and painless. Throughout the album there are only a few snags in flow; infact, at some points it’s hard to tell exactly where the two switch. They are a well-oiled rapping machine.

Most importantly, this album carries a staggering variety. Across the board the weaving of powerful dance beats intertwined with the deeply emotional concept songs that cut deep in listeners such as myself is masterful.

“Watch The Throne” is provocative, it is raw, but most importantly, it is real. The fact of the matter is, I can’t even mention 3 of the 14 song titles in this review, I’ll probably never grasp some of the concepts that come with this album, and I may be a skinny white boy jamming to an album about black-power; but the tune is just so infectious.

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