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When Jay-Z released The Dynasty LP in 2000, his team consisted of Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, and Amil. At the time, the LP seemed like it would be an automatic disappointment, as not only did Jay have to share the mic with his crew, but he also didn’t spend any money on production. Who were these guys, Kanye West and Just Blaze, that produced the majority of the LP, we all thought to ourselves. The joke was on us though, as The Dynasty was satisfyingly solid, easily proving the worth of Kanye and Just as producers, leading to their current status as some of the most respected in the game. How times have changed.

But while we went in with low expectations for The Dynasty eleven years ago, expectations couldn’t be higher for Watch The Throne, the first collaborative LP from Jay-Z and Kanye West. It began during the Good Fridays campaign for Ye’s MBDTF, which spawned a gorgeous track called “The Joy”. The track found Jay and Yeezy back-to-back over the mellowest of Curtis Mayfield breaks, produced by none other than Pete Rock. They followed up with “H.A.M.”, an operatic Lex Lugar produced track that didn’t go over quite as well. But they quickly redeemed themselves with “Otis”, which came off similar in fashion to “The Joy”, but utilizing a more abrasive, chopped up Otis Redding sample. The response to this track quickly erased any leftover bacon taste from the previous single, and sent expectations through the roof.

But when the bar is set that high, only greatness will be accepted, which is why Watch The Throne is ultimately a let down.

With no clear direction, the album is a collage of different sounds and styles, some of which will delight, others that will disappoint. The album begins with two better-than-average tracks, the brooding “No Church In The Wild” and the Beyonce firestarter “Lift Off”. But while both are good, they fail to really set the album off. The clinky, paired-down “N***as In Paris” follows, setting a poor tone for the album. Luckily, “Otis” comes in and sets things straight.

The Neptunes produced, James Brown sampled “Gotta Have It” also gets things back on track, but there really isn’t an attention grabbing moment until The RZA helmed “New Day” kicks in. Jay and Kanye introspectively look at the faces of the future sons’, creating an honest, somber look beyond the duo’s stone exteriors. “Murder To Excellence” also is refreshing, examining race in America; a topic not touched upon by these two very often. The dubstep infused, Flux Pavillion produced “Who Gon Stop Me” knocks, but is strange bedfellows next to the album’s rawer, sample based beats. The album’s closer, “Why I Love You” finds Jay firing shots indirectly at past friends, harking back to that Dynasty era.

While the production may be uneven, there are still tons of quotable moments from both Jay and Kanye on this LP. Don’t get us wrong, each of these songs may have their own merits out of context, but have a hard time fitting together as a whole. All in all, Watch The Throne is still a good album. But when dealing with two gentlemen that have such a long-standing reputation for greatness, “good” simply isn’t good enough.

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52 Responses to "Jay-Z + Kanye West – "Watch The Throne" – @@@1/2 (Review)"
  • yungplex says:

    I agree with the yeezy slant of the album. Bof these boyz winin

  • roy bogart says:

    3.5 out of 5? Yeah thats about right. I have been a fan of Jay ever since I heard Dead Presidents, the original version. And aside from 808 & heartbreak (which I didn’t buy because I fukkin HATE auto tune), Kanye is also one of my faves. Do some albums have to grow on you? Hell yeah!! Look, I thought the 1st Chronic was aiight when it first came out. Watch the Throne is not the classic that it could have been, but it is still an ill album. Jay does seem a bit comfortable in his status but he still rhymes better than a lot of “hungry” rappers out there. The first three songs had me worried, but the rest of it is pretty sick. I think when Jiggas next solo joint drops, it will be a return to form

  • Hugh Jasol says:

    This album is a classick. Too bad the entire nation is a bunch of ignorant Christian zombies that have no clue what all the symbolism and all the references the lyrics make.

    If you studied Egyptology you would know that Jay-Z and Kanye are not only throwing up a diamond but also a pyramid. When Kanye talks about his chain is so heavy and you see him rocking a huge medallion of the Ancient Egyptian God Horus better known today as Jesus.

    Jay-Z was down with the Ansaru Allah Community back in day with Jaz-O, which later evolved into Holy Tabernacle Ministries to Nuwaubian Nation of Moors to the Ancient Egiptian Order.

    People need to study before they judge. And pay attention to their lyrics, these 2 rappers are the only ones that matter. They rap about superficial stuff but they balance it out with real issues and subjects only adults can feel . The Beats are for all regions for the dummies who just need beats. No other rapper is bring their content to an album. No other rappers matter except them.

    So if you don’t like this album your just a ignorant asshole who wants simple shit or your a backpacker who wanted the blueprint part 4. Get a grip. Evolve, Grow, or DIE.

  • Lee says:

    Would have given this 4 @’s myself just because of how interesting it is and how strong the production is.

    As an album it doesn’t hold together exceptionally well, but each individual track is very good.

    Of course it’s better to cover your bases since the ones who enjoyed it and hate the lower score are undoubtedly quieter than the idiots who think they should speak up when this site rates something “too high”.

  • kevin says:

    Will there ever be a time when niggas with barely in/conformed opinions stop listing their all-to-predictable list of classic albums that shape (or bind) their perception of what hip-hop, or for that matter any musical experience, should be?

    Random Wu-Tang album between 93-98 drawn from a hat…any PE album produced by Bomb Quad….either Chronic album where Dre didn’t write any lyrics…your choice of ATCQ’s discography that 20 million niggas love but only 1 million (mainly west coast asians in palo alto or berkley or weed head white liberals) actually bought.

    Breaking News: all the albums all of you’z list are between 11-20 years or more old…time (and ideally music) evolves! Maybe so shall WE (yes including me, today’s random message board hater/geek) as hip-hop too must grow.

    I would give Kanye West modern day Stevie Wonder status (you know Stevie, the blind guy Will Smith bit Wild Wild West from…errr, I mean Rza/Gza perfectly chopped up “Cold World” from) because in pushing music forward he gives us new song formats (not just hook, 16 bars, repeat), new topics songs are based off of as well as giving width to the hip-hop sound by adding musicianship across the board.

    And in my opinion, that’s the measurement stick for which, if used, will further extend the life of hip-hop: who’s breaking ground. By no-means a Fabolous fan, but if he were out in ’88 with same flow and lyrics, he would be a hip-hop legend. 2000s Fabolous is just another rapper with disposable music who breaks no ground and does absolutely nothing new….just like 95% of hip-hop, 9th Wonder included.

    WTT, like damn near all of Kanye’s worth. Is in the vein of Stevie because both gave us honest (rich nigga raps: yes; rich niggas: yes) music with talent and creativity that pushed the genre.

    We all want ground breaking work, namely like the albums most all list when they give an opinion. But its beyond idiotic to apply the same standards and to live in the same cultural bubble from years ago and apply it to 2011.

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