Watch The Throne?

They might want to re-name the album "Kiss the Rings."

Jay-Z and Kanye West are officially killing the game, re-animating it and then murdering it again.  "Watch the Throne" just might break the U.S. iTunes store's one-week sales record, after fans snapped up nearly 290,000 downloads on the site on Aug. 14, according to Billboard.  On Wednesday, we'll learn whether the digital and physical sales also kicked sand in the face of other artists, courtesy of Nielsen SoundScan. 

Congrats to 'Ye and Jay on their success, as I am a fan of both. 

In addition to being one of the best producers in the game, I find West to be the Dave Chappelle of rap (pre-Africa trip, of course) offering up comedic gems at the same time stirring social commentary. 

As for Jay...What can I say about Hova?  I even loved him during the corny "Hawaiian Sophie" days.  The chameleon MC has survived in what most revere a young man's game because he is an excellent storyteller, wry observer of pop culture trends and ain't afraid to flip his style to match the methods of the moment.

So, that said, some RedEye readers have asked what I thought of "Watch the Throne."  I did not review it for the paper and really thought I had dodged the bullet of having to publicly judge two of my faves on their joint effort.  But then I got called out, on Facebook, no less and found myself with a homework assignment.

Never let it be said that I do not listen to my Kyles Filers. 

And now, for my (albeit, late) review of "Game of Thrones."  We're going to start with a sum-up of the come-up, and then travel step by step through honest assessments of each track. 

Please note: The sentiments below have absolutely nathan to do with my much discussed column about materialsm in rap, as that was by no means an attempt to single out two artists who are part of an industry-wide trend.  But their topics are fair game.  As a hip-hop fan, I not only listen to how rappers talk about things, I listen to the things they talk about. 

So let's go...


My expectations were sky high for a team-up of Jay and 'Ye. I thought they would conjure up a dream team classic.  I imagined a joint effort would be like the joining of Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah or Talib Kweli and Mos Def. Though there is a decided generation gap, 'Ye and Jay's drive for quality is unparallelled and the big brother/little brother dynamic could have forced the best out of each other.

The results were not of the aforementioned altitude.

The Throne does, however, deliver  in terms of production.  The quality of their beats, with the exception of a few throw-aways (see track-by-track descriptions below) puts them light years ahead of their mainstream counterparts.  

Lyrically, both men run rings around their radio peers, but that ain't saying much unfortunately.  To commend MCs of their ilk for skilled lyricism is to congratulate a high-school valedictorian for being able to tie his shoes. 

Additionally, the album lacks cohesion aka purpose, unless you count the connective thread of materialism.  While some might argue they are rapping their reality as wealthy music moguls, I have to think that topics of baubles, beautiful models, handbags, fine clothing and ungrateful underlings should give way to something...anything...else. 

'Ye proved himself capable of this in "Beautiful Dark, Twisted Fantasy," unleashing emotionally and creatively with "All of the Lights," "Runaway," and "Dark Twisted Fantasy." He's been to even darker places in "808s and Heartbreak."  Jay has done the same throughout his career, perhaps most heartwrenchingly with "Song Cry."

This time, they decided to replace emotion with ego-tripping.  This Throne project sounds like what happens when two very rich, very bored artists get together.  At best, they have a playful chemistry.  At worst, it sounds like they worked together just to prove they could.

Keep reading, unless you are too enraged at my blasphemy against Jay and 'Ye to continue. If you are infuriated, might I recommend that you take a brief, invigorating walk around your house, office or block and come back to me with a cool head?  You have to at least hear me out. 

Ready, here goes? Track attack...