Likes: New Day, Welcome to the Jungle, Murder to Excellence, No Church in the Wild
Dislikes: That’s My Bitch
Overall: Some weak parts, but features intriguing lyrics & unique production
Ever since the release of Kanye West’s defining debut, “College Dropout,” on the Jay-z founded Roc-A-Fella Records in 2004, fans have insisted the pair record a collaborative album. After 7 years and multiple features on each other’s projects, they granted the audience’s request with “Watch the Throne.” Considering the style of the production and some of the pensive lyrics, the rappers were definitely looking to create a classic album.
“Throne’s” production is somewhat thematic and is the perfect mix of today’s and yesterday’s sound, blending futuristic synths and elements of electronica with traditional hip-hop rhythms and some classic 60’s & 70’s soul. Most of the album is lyrically adequate, but there are some feeble points. For example, “Lift Off” has a great hook and attractive production, but the verses are painfully short and barely noticeable. Another weakness is that there are one too many songs in which the rappers singly boast about their success and assets. Granted, boasting is a central tenet in hip-hop, but multiple tracks of just boasting can get redundant and tiring. Also, I’m personally over West’s womanizing lyrics that seem to now have a stronger recurring role on his projects. (ex. “…I said look you need to crawl ‘fore you ball, come and meet me in the bathroom stall and show me why you deserve to have it all…”)
Reminiscent of West’s “My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy,” the more meaningful lyrics address the societal turmoil of the black community and discuss the ugly and rewarding parts of fame, while taking time for personal, inward reflection. On the endearing and intriguing “New Day,” West and Jay-z speak to their unborn sons. Jay-z vows to be better parent than his absentee father, and West makes a mockery of what the media has found to be his missteps and lists what he finds to be valid mistakes. All in all, I predict that “Throne” will be well revered and that another collaborative record is in the future. Good album.
If I have any additional commentary on an album from a societal, cultural or fan perspective, I usually save it for a separate article, but since I don’t have too much to say, I’ll go ahead and include it here. Hip-hop and I have love-hate relationship. I see its value as a genre, but there are many things about the culture and the music that I do not agree with. As a woman and feminist, I will never find it appropriate to refer to a woman as a bitch. Most rappers proclaim that when they use the word “bitch,” it’s not in reference to ALL women, just those that are promiscuous or deceitful, but as usual, the rappers contradict themselves. On “That’s My Bitch,” Jay-z and Kanye are speaking of a respectable woman of substance that’s their companion. As a woman of color, I ask and I plea: when do I get to be referred to as your friend, girlfriend or wife and NOT your “bitch?” As a man of color, when will you give yourself and your male counterparts a title of something more exalting than a “nigga?” When? That is all.