Jay-Z and Kanye West need absolutely no introduction whatsoever. This collaborative album between two of rap’s biggest has been in the making for nine months. Despite featuring together on a couple of tracks, most notably Jay-Z’s "Run This Town" and West’s "Monster", this is the first full-length album to be released by the duo. Originally planned to be a five-track EP, ‘Watch the Throne’ apparently took three attempts to finally complete, and while it is phenomenal in places, it is evident that, judging by previous efforts, the duo could have done better.
The album does have highs, the musicianship showcased on the album being just one of them. The music on every track is bold, vast and dark, similar to West’s excellent ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. The production is distinct and compliments each track well, showing both rappers’ unique taste and style. The album’s main highlight, "Lift Off", is an outstanding track featuring none other than Mrs Jay-Z herself. The soaring introduction heralds Beyoncé’s arrival before the outstanding chorus kicks. It’s an obvious choice for a single, but the correct one. It deserves to top singles charts all over the world. Other highlights are provided in the form of "No Church in the Wild" featuring Odd Future’s Frank Ocean, "New Day" which contains an auto-tuned sample of Nina Simone’s "Feeling Good", and "Murder to Excellence" which broadcasts the most serious message on the whole album.
However, it’s the moments where both artists have nothing important to say that bring the album down. Occasionally on the album, the lyrics focus around the rich, luxurious lifestyle of the duo, and while it is the lifestyle that most would love to have, it doesn’t make for good listening. Other lows on the album are provided when the music and the lyrics become cluttered and sound disjointed. The lead track "Otis" ends at the right moment, if it had gone on for longer, the sample would have became annoying. Thankfully, the album only has a small of number of flaws, which can be overlooked.
With a collaboration this big, you would have been hoping for album of the century. But the best rap album of the year will do just fine. Now, will there be a follow-up and will we have to wait ages for that to happen?
By Calum Stephen