When stars align, it is often signaled as a rare occurrence, but in the case of the stars named Jay-Z and Kanye West, it’s happened several times. In hindsight, “Watch the Throne,” was years in the making, as the duo’s chemistry grew and their music reached a sound accessible by all, not just the hardcore hip-hop heads that have been onboard since the days of Roc-A-Fella. Now after cultivating a brotherly love matched by few in hip-hop, the two stars finally cross again and bring forth an album that aims to unite everyone under their presence.
Beginning the album is “No Church in the Wild,” a subtle, yet ferocious track. Odd Future member and R&B singer Frank Ocean laces the bass-laden intro with a somber chorus, asking “What’s a God to a nonbeliever?” Once the chorus ends, Jay-Z and Kanye West propel into their respective verses, with Jay-Z quoting Socrates and West recalling an event so extravagant, it required a lot of Advil and a pair of sunglasses.
“No Church in the Wild” laid a solid foundation, but the dynamic sounds are what build “Watch the Throne” up to the skyscraper it is. The dubstep sampling of Flux Pavilion for “Who Gon Stop Me” and Cassius’ electronic masterpiece “I Love You So” to create the emotionally charged “Why I Love You” exemplifies Kanye West’s yearning to create “stadium music.” However, it is not all electronic-influenced. Tracks like “Otis” and the RZA-assisted “New Day” utilize the soul samples that made RZA and West household names.
“Watch the Throne” does face a few hiccups during its journey, mainly in “Lift Off,” which comes off as a throwaway track. At face value, what seems like a collaborative album, really sounds like Kanye’s show with Jay-Z as a guest star.
Even with its flaws, “Watch the Throne” is a great effort from the duo. While it may not achieve “classic” status, one thing is certain — the revolution may not be televised, but watching these two stars create music is just as good.