Review: Jay-Z & Kanye West, ‘Watch the Throne’

Review: Jay-Z & Kanye West, ‘Watch the Throne’: Aidin Vaziri | “Watch the Throne” is all about excess. The first full-length collaboration between two of the most popular rappers of the past decade, Jay-Z and Kanye West, is an album about having too much money, power and ego. And that’s before you even listen to the first song. The blinding cover art – a gold Mylar etching that unfolds into the shape of a cross – was created by Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci. The music inside is equally garish, helmed by a stable of big-budget producers that includes the Neptunes, DJ Premier, Swizz Beats, Q-Tip and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan. “Couture level flows never go on sale/ Luxury rap/ The Hermes of verses,” Kanye raps on “Otis,” a song that takes an expensive sample of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” and chops it to pieces. That’s one of the album’s more palatable verses. The two hip-hop titans don’t try to one-up each other, which would actually provide a little spark; they merely take turns bragging side by side, as if it never occurred to them that they were actually supposed to be working together. In “New Day,” they make a vain attempt at reflection, writing notes to their unborn children. The best West can offer is, “I might even make him be Republican/ So everybody know he love white people.” It’s exhausting hearing them bang on about their material lives, especially in a world where most of their fans are feeling the brunt of the bum economy. Worse still, “Watch the Throne” doesn’t offer escapism or absurdity or a glance at the perils of the high life. It’s just empty gloating from two men who have missed the point of life itself. “Basquiats, Warhols serving as my muses/ My house like a museum,” Jay-Z raps on “Illest Mother- Alive.” Success has never sounded so unappetizing.

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