JAY-Z & Kanye West - Watch The Throne (Throwback Album Review)

Updated: Apr 29, 2020

Kanye season continues today with 2011's huge collaboration project 'Watch The Throne' by both JAY-Z and Kanye West. The two life long friends were on top of the rap game as this collaboration album loomed and the expectations for this project were as high as expectations could possibly be - so, did they live up to their expectations? I'd say yes, and quite confidently. Firstly, as Ye had a hand in the production it's obviously very good. There's a wide range of instruments found throughout, but it's very drum and synth based as most music is today. Also, just like Ye's golden days there's a whole load of samples - with 'Otis' (solely produced by Kanye West) being the most noticeable. Both of these artists turn up for the whole project - and nobody outshines the other. If I had to judge who performed the best on this album though I'd slightly edge it towards Jay. Lyrically it's full of braggy, witty lines with punchlines of high quality all over it and just genuinely great bars throughout. Both of them flow well, and both have such a confident delivery with Ye's ego shining through and Jay's delivery suiting the vibe of the track perfectly - but most importantly the chemistry they show is incredible. The features on this also have chemistry with the pair on thus album - and all of them do a great job and make the track more interesting. The content on this album is great and varied - but common themes include their success, status in the rap game (on the 'throne') and black prejudice within America.

This project begins with 'No Church in the Wild' and we're first greeted with a Frank Ocean feature, who vocally kills the hook and makes it such and entertaining part of the track. The-Dream also added a nice bridge in the song as the two rappers spoke on free will over a deep bass guitar and heavy drums giving us a great start to the album. Beyoncé joins us on the next track 'Lift Off' and steals the show. She fits in so well, and her vocals are incredible. She (and Ye and Jay) speak on their success in the music industry by comparing it to the lift off of a rocket. It's another great song, and you feel proud of their achievements as they speak on their success over the heavy synth bass and aggressive styled-production. 'N***** in Paris' is the next track and it needs no introduction. Ye and Jay use this track to talk about how they "ball so hard" and show off their wealth - but they don't do it generically as they use some great punchlines to do it, "(Ball so hard) Got a broken clock // Rollies that don't tick-tock". The beat is iconic and the ending so triumphant when that disgusting synth bass comes in. This track in particularly is a great showcase of their chemistry and both of them have great verses working together to create this great track. The way Kanye flips the sample on 'Otis' and partners it with them deep drums is genius and creates one of the best beats in hip-hops ever. Both Jay & Ye go so hard on this track as they flex their wealth in a cock and arrogant way that you love to see, "Photo shoot fresh, looking like wealth // I'm 'bout to call the paparazzi on myself". It's an amazing song and a song I just didn't want to ever end as they went back and forth between each other.

Compared to the previous four track run, 'Gotta Have It' isn't as good but is still a great song. In this track both Ye and Jay give a lecture on success, money and how to deal with those trying to take it from you. The beat is hard with another sample used, but again not like the previous four songs. I don't dislike it though, it's still a highlight of the album and wouldn't be skipped. 'New Day' serves as another fantastic song where both Ye and Jay talk to their unborn son and hope they learn from their father's past mistakes. Kanye talks about how his son won't have the ego he has and how people will like him, while Jay talks apologizes for not being able to give him a normal life and how he'll be the dad he never had. It's a heartwarming track over a simplistic piano as it tries to shine all of the attention on the lyrics. Another song that's good is 'That's My Bitch' - but again not as good as other tracks on this album (but that's not a negative thing by any means). Ye & Jay do their thing over crazy synths, another fine sample and more addicting drums. 'Welcome to the Jungle' has these ominous, stabbing and repetitive synths partnered by a piano that sounds cool but also slightly cheap. The song is mostly Jay, as he talks about the deaths of people around him - once again it's a good song as they all are. Jay absolutely murders the beat on 'Who Gon Stop Me' as he talks about his come and his status now with some hard hitting lines, "Beat the odds, beat the Feds // It wouldn’t be wise to bet against the kid // Start me broke, I bet I get rich // Night shift: six to six". It has some dub-step type sample of 'I Can't Stop' by Flux Pavilion - which is a risk but it paid off massively to make yet another great track.

The next song is a two parter titled 'Murder to Excellence'. The first part focuses on black on black violence while the second part focuses on black people who have risen to become successful such as Kanye & Jay themselves. The beat again is amazing and takes a rock inspiration with the use of that bass guitar. 'Made in America' again talks on black history but mainly looks at the artists rise to fame again. Frank Ocean features again, and his vocals as usual suit the heavenly bass and stabbing synths perfectly. Despite how nice the beat is when it first hits you - it can get a bit tiresome towards the end of the album. It's yet another good song but not a massive highlight of the tape. The finale to this amazing album is 'Why I Love You' and the beat is actually crazy. Mr. Hudson's hook is very catchy and a great interlude between the verses where Jay (mainly) talks on the fall of Roc-A-Fella Records and how his old friends have betrayed him, "I tried to teach n***** how to be kings // And all they ever wanted to be was soldiers". It's an amazing end to a fantastic album.

So to conclude this album, both artists turned up and dropped an absolute classic. It really didn't disappoint - and was near perfect with not a single bad song. We can only pray these two kiss and make up because a sequel to this album is desperately needed.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: No Church In The Wild, Lift Off, N***** in Paris, Otis, Who Gon Stop Me, Murder to Excellence, Why I Love You


OVERALL RATING: Solid 8.5/10

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