Rap royalty deliver a remarkable collaborative effort.
In many ways Watch The Throne is the record that both Jay-Z and Kanye West needed to make. For Mr. Beyoncé, this opus is an opportunity to prove that he can do collaborations successfully in the wake of his creative misfires with Linkin Park and R. Kelly. For Mr. Hitler, sorry, West, on the other hand, the album is a great way to remind people of just how talented he is (when he isn’t making a show of himself, boo hooing that people hate him as much as Hitler).
As you might expect, Watch The Throne sees both acts come out with all weapons blazing: much of the material on the LP stands shoulder to shoulder with their best cuts. ‘Murder To Excellence’ features a beautiful, tribal vocal hook and powerful lyrics that speak out against gang violence; ‘Lift Off’ boasts an excellent vocal performance from Beyoncé; and ‘Niggas In Paris’ has a hilarious sample from the Will Ferrell film Blades of Glory that keeps the proceedings in a playful mood.
The only downside is that much of the subject matter retreads the same old macho posturing that we’re already overly familiar with. ‘That’s My Bitch’ may be a sweet ode to his wife in Jay’s mind, but it sounds a little sleazy all the same. As for Kanye, his statement that, “White America assassinate my character,” on ‘Gotta Have It’ is a typically deluded statement from someone who’s spent the last five years talking bollocks of biblical proportions.
Not to worry. For all its lyrical faults, musically Watch The Throne is a humdinger: a triumphant-sounding record that plays to both rappers strengths and reaffirms their status as the leading lights of the scene.