“Watch The Throne” (2011) by Jay-Z & Kanye West

Riding on the success of Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, two of the most critically and commercially successful rappers of all time have come together to record a collaborative record, Watch The Throne. But where the former succeeded, this album falls flat on its face. Gone is the flow and cohesion that poured out of Dark Twisted Fantasy; gone is 95% of the emotion and 100% of the killer verses.

Watch The Throne has ambition. It is blatant that Kanye is trying to carry over his trademark highly dense production style to this collaboration. Samples from all sorts of genres are flying in from left, right, and centre as Kanye and Jay-Z lazily rap over the top of them. The production is brilliant, no doubt. But the problem, unfortunately, is the rapping. Unlike the clever, intricate rhyming structures that we know both rappers are capable of, Watch The Throne seems to be constructed of boring monosyllabic rhymes and effortlessly (not in a good way) written lyrics, for the better part of the album with no deeper meaning to them at all. Both Kanye and Jay-Z have become complacent – on this album we have two of the greatest rappers in music, and all they can do is talk about how brilliant they are, which is a shame.

There is never really any true chemistry between the two, either. Jay-Z and Kanye both have their own verses and songs, but very rarely do they rap together, playing off each other’s rhymes. The final product is an album which sounds mostly like Kanye recorded some songs, Jay-Z record some songs, and someone mixed them up and put them in random order.

Props go to a few songs, such as “Otis”, but for the better part Watch The Throne is what happens when two of the most famous and successful musicians in the world get together and let their egos absorb them, resulting in a complacent, self-righteous mess.

5.6

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