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It was all good just a week ago, ****** feel theyselves.  Then Watch the Throne drop, Kanye West and Jay-Z potentially change how the music industry distributes albums.  In a world of hackers and people leaking music, many albums are impacted by early leaks.  Whether the artist has to release music prematurely (J. Cole’s Like a Star) or being unhappy with how their work is released (Beyonce’s 4), leaks can really affect an artist’s creative process.  The fact that two of the music industry’s biggest stars released an album without it leaked early is both surprising and impressive, and may lead to a trend of artists releasing their projects digitally before they hit store.  Besides the brilliance of the album not leaking, Watch the Throne also lived up to its hype.

1. No Church in the Wild – Jay-Z and Kanye recruit The Dream and Odd Future’s Frank Ocean to led smooth vocals on the opening track of the album.  The song sets a darker mood to start the album on the Kanye West x 88 keys beat.  With a great blend lyrical verses, singing, production and tone, The Throne starts off strong with the album’s first song.

What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a God? What’s a God to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything? – Frank Ocean

2. Lift Off – On Watch the Throne, Lift Off comes off to me as an introductory song on the album.  If released alone, the song would seem incomplete, but while listening to the whole album, the song seems to serve a purpose of getting the listeners engaged into listening to the album as a whole.  The countdown at the end and the boasting in the verses acts as a way to hook the listener.  As a song itself, Lift Off is one of the skippable tracks on the album but as a transition from the opening song to the rest of the album, the song fits in nicely.

Lift off, lift off, taking my coat off.  Showing my tattoos, I’m such a show off. – Kanye West

3. ****** in Paris – When I heard that one of the songs on WTT would sample the movie Blades of Glory, I was nervous with the direction the song could go in but ****** in Paris has quickly become one of my favorite songs on the album.  Hit-Boy stole the show with incredible production.  The song seems to be tearing up the radio already and sounds amazing on loud speakers.  The beat change at the end of the song and Kanye outro seal the deal on making it one of my favorite songs.

Prince William ain’t do it right if you ask me.  I would’ve married Kate and Ashley.
– Kanye West

4. Otis – Kanye and co channel their soulful influence in production with sampling Otis Redding.  A phenomenal beat that was releasing recently to increase buzz for WTT, both rappers went hard on their verses.  No need for a hook with their call and answer style verses.

Luxury rap, the Hermes of verses.  Sophisticated ignorance, write my curses in cursive.
– Kanye West

5. Gotta Have It – Kanye starts off the song with a diss to white America, who criticized him in his recent public incidences with George Bush and later on Matt Lauer as well as the notorious run in with Taylor Swift at the VMA’s.  With the way he repeats “hello, hello, hello” at the beginning, it sounds like he is saying “LOL” which seems to mock white America saying he doesn’t care if people think he is an asshole.  With only a verse from each rapper over a Neptunes beat, The Throne continues the strong start to Watch the Throne.

I wish I could give you this feeling, I’m planking on a million. – Jay-Z

6. New Day – The song has received some criticism online but is being underrated by fans.  The song doesn’t sound like a typical song from Jay or Ye but is pretty deep when you listen to the lyrics.  The two talk about their unborn children.  The track shows a high level of emotion which is surprising from an album that has a lot of bragging.

Promise to never leave him even if his mama is tweakin’, cause my dad left me and I promise never repeat him. – Jay-Z

7. That’s My Bitch – With the song finally remastered and Justin Vernon’s mumbling turning into better annunciated words, That’s My Bitch sounds great.  With a few minor charges and a higher quality, the track that leaked a few months back, the song seems like another song that could see some radio play.

Silly little vixens, mixes till morning, I’m yearning.  Do you really think I give a damn about that potion. Stop motion. – Justin Vernon

8. Welcome to the Jungle – I can’t say I was excited to hear Swizz Beats adlibs or on an intro.  His voice, repetitious words, grunts and yelling seem to take away from the potential that this song could have had.  Jay-Z’s verse about the deceased Notorious B.I.G, Michael Jackson and Pimp C is the highlight of the song for me.

My dreams is big, reality set in.  Let off a clip from an automatic weapon.  Through shots in the door, it died in Vegas.  Though it fought so hard, I knew it wouldn’t make it.– Jay-Z

9. Who Gon Stop Me – With Who Gon Stop Me, The Throne tests other rappers to try and stop them and take their number one spot.  Kanye also tests his limits by comparing people losing to him and Jay to people being lost in the Holocaust.  I really enjoyed the part in Jay’s verse when the beat continues to change.  It is a good contrast to the repetitive beat that Kanye rapped over.

Ixnay off my dicksnay.  That’s pig latin, itchbay. - Kanye West

10. Murder to Excellence – In addition to Welcome to the Jungle, Murder to Excellence was produced by Swizz Beats and was one of the weaker tracks on the album for me.  I think the hook sounds nice on the beat but the verses don’t seem to match up with the beat in my opinion.  Despite problems with the beat, I do enjoy Kanye and Jay’s lyrics.

You’re the girl that Jesus had been saving me for, so let’s savor this moment and take it to the floor.  Black excellence, truly yours.
– Kanye West

11. Made in America – With another appearance from Frank Ocean, Kanye and Jay-Z channel their inner storyteller.  Kanye talks about his mom while Jay talks about his grandmother.  Another emotional song on the album complemented by Frank singing about making it in America makes for another great song.

Ignore the critics just to say we did it.  This ain’t no fashion show, motherfucker, we live it. – Kanye West

12. Why I Love You – GOOD Music’s Mr. Hudson accompanies his boss and Jay to collaborate on Why I Love You.  The song has vibes similar to rock and roll, rather than soul or jazz, other genres that hip hop production tends to flirt with.  Jay-Z talks about his relationship with artists on Roc-A-Fella as well as his former partner Dame Dash.  While Jay doesn’t seem overly happy with the people he is talking about, he concludes his first verse by saying he still loves them.  The song doesn’t have much of Kanye besides an adlib here or there.

The castle got bigger, the walls got taller and truth be told after all that said, ****** still got love for you.– Jay-Z

Overall, the album met my high expectations.  Kanye West and Jay-Z released an album that has stand out tracks but more importantly sounds like a work of art as a whole.  Although I’m not ready to crown it Album of the Year yet (looks at Kendrick Lamar), the album was great in several aspects; lyrics, production, features, samples etc.  I see Watch the Throne making a huge impact on the music industry.  It raised the bar for other rappers, especially “the elite”. As well as forcing other rappers to release better material, I wouldn’t be surprised to see artists follow The Throne’s process of releasing the album digitally and then with physical copies.  After a few listens, Watch the Throne has been up to par with what is expected from these two hip hop moguls.

Grade: 9/10
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