So the time has come for the most talked about hip-hop collaboration project in years to finally see the light of day. With recording sessions in popular cities such as Paris, London, and even Sydney, 'Watch The Throne' has been on the lips of rap aficionados for just over a year now. The thought of the 'best rapper alive', Jay-Z, collaborating on an entire album alongside his limelight loving student, Kanye West, who also happens to be one of today's finest performers, is somewhat of an orgasmic thought, but does the much anticipated project live up to the hype?
With the build up to it's release made to be a major event, you'd expect something incredibly epic to stand as the album's opener. However, 'No Church In The Wild' is in fact quite possibly the weakest of the 12 tracks (16 if you pick up the Deluxe Edition). Almost a random muffling of words over what sounds like an unsure instrumental lifted from the movie 'Tron', it doesn't help convey the message that this is the most important hip-hop release of 2011.
Skipping 'Lift Off', which features Beyonce, to the first real slice of dominant hip-hop, 'Niggas in Paris', with it's hypnotically edgy production is faultless. Catching glimpses of the Jay-Z who came up under Biggie Smalls; the Jay-Z who brought us the classic album 'The Blueprint'; the Jay-Z who went toe to toe lyrically with Nas, is a breathtaking affair. Spitting lines like, "Psycho, I'm liable to go Michael/ Take your pick, Jackson, Tyson, Jordan/ Game 6/ Ball so hard I got a broke clock/ Rollies that don't tik tok/ Audemars that's losing time/ Hidden behind all these big rocks," there's no questioning this cut's ability to penetrate a lover of lyricism's thought process.
Not going overboard on the features, the album includes Kanye's UK musical muse Mr. Hudson, Odd Future's Frank Ocean, and of course Mr. Carter's wifey, Beyonce. There's also a couple of lengthy samples that feature both Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield. Analysing these features you can't help but notice that they're all singers. Choosing not to include any other emcees, the hip-hop heavyweights go it alone. With that said there are moments where the two icons lyrically fall short of their mark - 'Gotta Have It' and 'Welcome To The Jungle'.
While these are just a few small hiccups, listening to Kanye get all nutty on a girl on the La Roux featured 'That's My Bitch' is both hilarious and frighteningly extravagant. Easily the best piece of production on the album, this track feels like it was birthed in the early nineties. Another that stands out is the Pete Rock produced 'The Joy', which features an awe-inspiring Curtis Mayfield sample. As real as hip-hop can get, this track, along with 'H.A.M.', 'Illest Motherfucker Alive', and 'Primetime', which all stand out as dope moments, are only available if you purchase the Deluxe Edition. While in most cases Deluxe Editions end up being just a ploy to get more money, yet the extras are not worth it, this time it's worth it. In fact, there really is no point in buying the standard version as long as the Deluxe is out there.
Overall the album is definitely worth picking up, whether you're a hip-hop fan or not. Loose pieces of production which try to hard to include the electro element that seems to sell these days stalls its quality in parts. However, the mere fact that Jay and Kanye are spitting alongside one another is exciting enough. Let's hope this spawns other collabos. Lil' Wayne and Drake anyone?