What is 'Watch The Throne' Exactly?
You Heard That New’s LowKey explains
There are so many factors to wrestle with before fully understanding or appreciating the magnitude of “Watch the Throne.” For starters, not one kick drum, chorus or song title leaked before the album became available for download at 11:30 p.m. on August 7, a major feat considering bootleg downloading has crippled album sales in recent years. Then there’s the conspicuous consumption. Hearing two millionaires talk about doing millionaire things can be a tad boring. Then again, hip hop was founded on depictions of grandeur. Who wants to do away with tradition? Lastly, teamwork. Kanye and Jay-Z, mentee and mentor, deliver without stepping on each other’s toes. The last time Jay-Z attempted a collaboration it ended horribly and Kanye proves he’s not good at playing nice with others.
Can we call this 16-track collaborative effort a win for hip hop or a win for music? Let's not get it twisted, this is an event. But to who, is the question. Was it an event to the some odd hundreds or thousands of followers you tweet to on a daily basis? Sure, it's Jay-Z and Kanye West, two of the most influential individuals who've ever recorded. But to the general masses, outside of you and me, what does it really mean to “Watch The Throne?” One might suggest this project is an official "Jay-Z and Kanye West For Dummies Guide." You'd be hard pressed to find a soul on this earth who hasn't heard of these two, but let's keep the playing field even and assume there are a couple untapped ears in God's atmosphere that aren't aware of "College Dropout" or "The Blueprint."
After a listen to "Watch the Throne" will your cubicle mate, John, now understand why ‘Ye and Jay are so great? Will a soccer mom in Iowa grasp how huge it is for Kanye to share billing with the man who he witnessed in concert on April 4, 1999? Now, will hip hop detractors stop referring to Jay-Z as only Beyonce’s husband or still call him a singer?
The fact of the matter is that their first single “Otis”, which features no hook or anthem and pairs them with R&B legend Otis Redding, connected with the consumer instantly. The slightest bit of radio push and it’s already garnered a significant amount of airplay on a bevy of mix shows and countdowns. But why should non hip hop advocates give a project like this the time of day? Where’s the correlation?
Take the RZA produced “New Day” for example where the two kings share personal wisdom with their unborn sons. Regardless of creed, culture or musical preference, as a young adult, we’ve all pondered how we want our child to receive the lessons of life. Or what about the Cassius sampled “Why I Love You?” A revealing tale of failed friendships that have altered present situations in both Kanye and Jay’s personal lives. These are blanket topics that anyone with a pulse can relate to in some way or another. Hip hop or not.
How epic is that for the industry? Who else will treat their project to such high regard? My guess? Not one soul. Ye and Jay didn't need the monster behind them, the monster needed them. And by monster, I'm referring to the major labels. They controlled the flow. The roll out. The aura. Who, in this culture, has the ability, influence and balls to do this?
This is where the story begins. This is where their legacy starts. Here's when we start to seriously -- though some of us already have -- evaluate what these fellas mean to music. The uproar will grow and the curiosity will skyrocket. Who are these two guys babbling about watching over a throne? Monumental is an understatement to what these two have accomplished.
LowKey is the co-founder and editor of YouHeardThatNew.com