Who: Jay-Z & Kanye West
What: Watch The Throne
Why: 4 Cigs
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Roc Nation/Def Jam | Producers: Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, RZA, The Neptunes, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, No I.D., Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean, Hit-Boy, 88-Keys, Don Jazzy, S1, Sham “Sak Pase” Joseph, Southside, Anthony Kilhoffer, Ken Lewis
The Good: From the gold-plated jewel casing to the earnest lyricism of first single “Otis,” Jay-Z & Kanye West’s Watch the Throne commanded attention spans with the poise of true professional recording artists. By exposing their worst on “New Day” and the pro-Black hymn, “Murder to Excellence,” the pair showcased deft while the electrifying “Niggas in Paris” held down the more easygoing listeners.
The Bad: When you pit arguably the best rapper and best Hip-Hop artists of all time in the same arena, the mere thought of an endless stream of classic records is enough to make your head explode — word to Clayton Bigsby — and Watch the Throne simply isn’t that. The royal rap tandem seemed more concerned with getting their leak-proof album to the masses to launch their lucrative tour instead of reigniting classroom debates on who had the most notable quotables. Obvious commercial reaches in “Lift Off,” and “Who Gon Stop Me” never made it to radio runways, leaving a bit to be desired.
The Lovely: Minor musical flubs aside, Jay & Ye had most of the collective rap world holding their breath for its release without nary a promotional gimmick or premeditated outburst. Breaking the first week iTunes sales record (before being bested by payola shortly thereafter), provoking a renewed interest in collaborative albums and handpicking the hottest beat of the year in “Niggas in Paris” is hardly something to be taken lightly. It’s an undefined form of monarchy. Talk about title accuracy. — TC