Jay-Z + Kanye West | Watch the Throne

Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation (2011)
By MICHAEL C. WALSH  |  August 17, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars


Kanye West has recently espoused the virtues of an album of raps suitable for home listening, as opposed to say club, or car listening. A worthy cause, but personally speaking, I've never lounged about my villa in Margiela PJs while anticipating a callback from Oprah. Other things mentioned on Watch the Throne that are likely to remain financially unobtainable to this writer for his life's duration: a Black Card with no limit, a beat from 'Ye, Maybachs on bachs, Beyoncé.

Facing this realization that their bankroll trumps that of their target audience billionfold, Kanye and Jay-Z mercifully scaled the scope of their Super Rich Friends debut back a tad over the course of its conception. Primary proof being that initial lead single and woefully transparent anthem "H.A.M" was largely met with indifference upon its release, and hence delegated to dreaded "deluxe edition bonus track" status here. Thus, instead of an album's worth of the pair yelling at us about how much money they have, we're granted with the less aggressive scenario of them effortlessly boasting their financial acumen over lush-as-fuck beats from a cast of typical collaborators and fresh-faced producers. Unceremoniously, it's the former who lay the nicest groundwork: RZA on "New Day" and Swizz Beatz on "Welcome to the Jungle," especially so. And while it sucks to say, the comparison between the two headliners isn't that close either. Jay dawns that ever-frustrating mush-mouth flow throughout the LP's duration, and only sounds awake when his bars are bookended by Kanye. In fact, one could argue that Jay is also upstaged by upstart crooner and Odd Future affiliate Frank Ocean, who turns in star-making hooks on "No Church In the Wild" and "Made In America," but that's really a feature for another day. And while he takes a definitive step back from that schizophrenic cliff that so defined Twisted Fantasy, Kanye has been crafting this braggadocios douchebag persona since he first told us he just wanted to "act ballerific" way back on "All Falls Down," and this is truly the apex of all that shit-talking. He tells Prince Williams that he didn't do it right, reminds his female companion that he paid for her breast augmentation, calls us Urkels, and masterfully talks his shit again while stealing the show in the process.
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Jay-Z, Jay-Z,  More more >
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