First Thoughts: Watch The Throne

All conquering meeting of hip-hop royalty?
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It’s perverse that one should even be approaching ‘Watch the Throne’ with low expectations. Reality states though that hip-hop superpowers teaming up as golden tickets/dream teams/matches made in heaven/messageboard theoreticals come true, rarely live up to the hype and fanfares. And if ever there were a pair of egos made for one another while simultaneously on a collision course, Hova and Kanyeezy are well capable of turning the greatest story ever told into something slapstick.

The form guide on duo dynamic shows Jigga has unimpressive previous with album sharing – the forgettable R Kelly half and halfs (twice!) and that remix backscratch with Linkin Park. While Jay put Kanye on, you wouldn’t put it past the pupil schooling the master to the point of rubbing his face in it (actually, that could well end up in the pros column). And strictly on a puerile level, calling the album ‘Watch the Throne’ is a headline writer’s dream, should said writer have a subscription to Viz.

‘Watch the Throne’ is a good album. Certainly not the all conquering meeting of hip-hop royalty you’re still fantasising about, though actually that lies more in the beats (the producers of which are irrelevant). When one-on-ones like this occur, the production has to have a common goal. Jay-Z and Kanye West letting one another breathe and bait over neck-snapping funk breaks or ‘The Blueprint’ in its entirety is the purist’s ideal; rhyming over a loose handpicked variety bucket is the egotism at it again, shopping and sampling wherever because they can.

Quotable ignorance and arrogance from both comes by the barrel. When getting their grown man on, it only makes you realise the strength of their shit-talking – and even then, you’re wishing Kanye would just pull his neck in now and again as some of his stanzas really aren’t for show. Most reassuring is that the pair are buddying up back to back, and not treating this as a summit that’s strictly business.

Words by Matt Oliver

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