Although the album came out a just about 2 weeks ago, I really had to marinate on the project before I wrote the review, with that being said let me kick things off. The anticipation for this album had me on my toes. I couldn’t imagine what it would sound like and couldn’t wait. I kept thinking about Black Star and just how dope “Definition” was. Two of my favorite emcees going back and forth, trading bars over hard knocking beats… What could be better right? Now, unfortunately for me, I tend to be very critical of all music. I never seem to be happy or satisfied with the results I get and this album was no different. I guess my first mistake was hyping up the album so much, that nothing I got could compare with my expectations. I imagined the best of both Ye’s and Jay’s albums mixed together. The soulful production Ye brings to the table with the witty and timeless lyrics that Jay is known for. Sadly, what I got was a “Good” album. I got a very different album and sound from two of the biggest names in Hip-Hop. As I listened to the album in its entirety I asked myself, “is this the best of both worlds?” Is this what rests on “the throne” of Hip-Hop’s platform? If it is, Hip-Hop is in a great place, but I can’t help but wonder… is this the best it could be?
Production – 8
I want to first say that this is not what I expected from the album. Full of futuristic horns and snares, the album gives off a very unique vibe. With the likes of Kanye, Hit-boy, RZA, and the Neptune, each song has its own feel and sound. I do have to admit that even with the high profile names I expected hard knocking traditional sounding drums and Hip-Hop beats. What I got were a group of tracks that had nothing to do with each other; it’s as though the album was constructed with a bunch of singles instead of a proper flow. I did get a weird vibe when I heard tracks with autotune considering Hov was the one who pronounced it dead on “D.O.A.” The beats hit hard and have their bright spots, but for me some of them have no replay value. The duo tried to create something fresh, and with the stagnant repetitive garbage that has been floating around Hip-Hop lately, this album did achieve its goal. However, what most people don’t understand is, just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s amazing.
Lyrics – 8.5
This is obviously where The Throne was going to shine; both Hov and Yeezy have a way of saying things that make you grin and say, “what did he just say?” Full of ego boosting, rich depicting, and personal insight verses the album is all over the place. Some songs give off a very “fuck you, Im rich” feel, while other times the listener sees just how real and personal the duo can get. On arguably one of the best tracks on the album “Ni**as In Paris,” Ye spits “Bougie girl, grab her hand, fuck that bitch she don’t wanna dance Excuse my French but I’m in France, I’m just sayin Prince William ain’t do it right if you ask me Cause if I was him I would have married Kate and Ashley.” You all know what he means, but it’s just some cleverness from the big ego boosting rapper. Jay however, not to be out done spits “Only spot a few blacks the higher I go What’s up to Will? Shout out to O that ain’t enough… we gonna need a million more “Kick in the door” Biggie flow I’m all dressed up with nowhere to go” on “Murder to Excellence.” You know you’re in a tax bracket of your own when you call Oprah “O”. One of the best parts of this album is just hearing these two legends trade bars back and forth with ease. However I couldnt help but notice Mr. West a bit more than I did when Mr. Carter came on.
Songs – 8.5
Songs on the album are hit or miss for me, either I love them or I just hate them. For me “Gotta Have It” produced by The Neptunes is the best song on the entire project. The two trade bars back and forth in a way that makes me wish the entire album was molded around this song. “New Day” is the song I gravitate to the most because of its heartfelt lyrics and message. The Throne rap a pair of verses to their unborn children while correcting their mistakes and bad habits in the process. The low mellow feel of the record make you want more from the two and less superficial boasting the album contains. “Why I Love You” featuring Mr. Hudson finds Jay taking over and addressing a few old friends who are more ungrateful then reminisce of good times. The album commercial appeal comes with the Beyonce owned “Lift Off” which sooner or later will be all over the radio. I can’t help but complain about the pair of Frank Ocean tracks on the album which consist of the only other feature. The first “No Church, In the Wild” is average at best and should have The Dream on the hook and bridge and not Ocean. The second Ocean assisted track is “Made in America” which sounds a lot better and actually shows of the up and coming singer in his best light. All in all, the songs are good, but again have no real mess to them and jump around all over the place.
Conclusion – 8.3
Now before I get name called and belittled for my intelligence, I want to state my case. I liked the album, it was a good solid effort and better than most of the nonsense that is floating around the Hip-Hop circle these days. The lyrics are on point and even though the beats are unconventional I can bang them at high levels to annoy the car next to me. However, it’s not what I expected when I heard Jay-z and Kanye West were going to have a collaborative album. Arguably the best rapper to ever do it and the leading rapper in the game right now serve up one of the best projects handed out this year. Sadly, like I said in my opening, it’s hard to say this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, because it’s not. It has its short comings in the production, content and fluidness of the album and because of that it can’t be considered anything above a good album. The Throne claims to be in the zone and above all others in the genre, but I can’t help but wonder what could have been. In an era where hip-hop has been pronounced dead and reborn again, Watch the Throne is a sign that the genre hasn’t reached the top of the mountain, but it’s getting there.
Album Review by Edgar Gomez for Defsounds.com