Kanye West is a rapper from Chicago and Jay-Z is a rapper from New York. They made an album together and they called it Watch the Throne and DAS CCRRAAAZZZYYY!!!!
It's silly to pretend like Throne isn't good, or at least interesting. Or at least rich. Or at least contemplative. Or at least involved, self- or otherwise. Or at least a little facetious. Or at least extra serious. Or at least hyper-preposterous.
In parts, it's all of those.
Guest Features: Frank Ocean, the gorgeous, glorious, sudden-superstar singer, is entirely comfortable with the air Jay and Kanye breathe in the castles of "No Church In the Wild" and "Made In America." On the latter, he manages to purposely reference Martin Luther King Jr. and accidentally reference Will Ferrell's Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby movie less than 25 seconds apart.
Mr. Hudson is immodest in his rock day howling on "Why I Love You."
Beyonce muddles the almost gigantic "Lift Off," singing(?) "How many people you know can take it this far" like she's winking at how grandiose their whole situation is, but kind of doesn't understand why it's not totally normal to everyone.
To that: Kanye and Jay-Z are removed by enough spaces/days/experiences that, barring the apocalypse or Brad Pitt and Edward Norton getting their shit together proper, they will never know what it's like to be a normal human being. Beyonce is like that, too. Do not be surprised if when she and Jay have a baby, it comes out missing ears or with supersight or whatever it is that the next level of people will possess.
To that's to that: what's bizarre to consider about Throne, or what will be perceived and horned as bizarre, is that Jay and Kanye are rapping about ridiculous things that are not ridiculous to themselves. For them, the idea of minimalism, let alone the aesthetic, is atrocious.
Of course Kanye has an other, other Benz. Duh. And it's not unrealistic to assume that Jay-Z probably has planked on a million dollars. It might actually be surprising if he hasn't. Double duh.
Throne is, in many ways, the continuation of the lifestyle-peddling that Rick Ross did on Teflon Don, only the twosome is being genuine. When they aggro-brag, it's hard to tell if they're being neo-deterministic or just being fatalists, but either way they're being honest. And for some, that's going to be a tad grating.
The album is not dipped in mysticism, as the liner notes would imply in jest or as the slants towards a God complex would imply or as the circus-y horror-movie antics that wander in and out of focus on "No Church In The Wild" and "New Day" and "Welcome to the Jungle" would imply.
It is simply an album delivered from Zeus' cloud, where you've never been and where Jay has been for long enough that he feels contented and Kanye has been for long enough that he's a little irritated.
Also, it takes until the third song, "Ni**as In Paris," before they finally flex a bit. There's a lift from Blades of Glory in it: "I don't even know that means. no one knows what it means, but it's provocative. Gets the people goin'." Lots will point to this and say, "See, see?"
Also, the wimpy fluttering of "Gotta Have It" is excellent.
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Also, there are more than a few references towards Afrocentricism, delivered best when Kanye contemplates: "In the past, if you picture events, like a Black Tie, what's the last thing you expect to see? Black guys. What's the life expectancy for black guys? The system's working effectively, that's why." This will make white people feel something-something-something. Or it won't.
Also, no copy of Throne landed on the Internet before it officially released, and that was super-exciting.