Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Watch the Throne....Collapse?
I'm not into to following the crowd. I must admit I've never been a die hard Jay-Z fan, but Kanye is pretty dope when it comes to name dropping and lyrically attacking any and everyone. I found it interesting that for the second time Jay-Z decided to do a collaboration album. If you recall, in 2002 Jay and R. Kelly released Best of Both Worlds. Admittedly, this was a classic album but suffered due to Mr. Kelly's court case nevertheless. So to do it again, you'd think Jay would partner with someone a little less controversial. Kanye has been known to throw a tantrum or two, grab a mic and say all hell against whomever he chooses. However, he and Jay have formed a very close chemistry over the years so I assume, the pairing was organic.
If I focus on the fan reactions from the itunes comments alone, it seems, that fans are utterly confused. Lots of comments say "its not what I expected" or something along the lines of "its not that great". While the lead single "Otis" seemed to excite fans whetting their appetite for more, I don't think many fans will stay for dessert. Critics have come down hard on the album calling Jay's flow "lazy and unconvincing" and even saying that Kanye is "elaborate and off putting".
Regretfully I admit that all the drama has me contemplating purchasing and hearing for myself. And as a fan of hip-hop, I owe them that, I think. But, all of the comments whether positive, negative or indifferent got me thinking alot about the title and the connotations associated with it. Two self-proclaimed kings in their own right have asked us, the common folk, to watch the throne. Well my question is what are we watching? Is this a continuation of the dynasty Jay began with Roc-a-Fella or are we watching the demise of a royal asshole and his millionaire rapper friend?
If we are to "watch the throne" as the title suggest, I would challenge you to look for a few things:
1) Portrayal of the Theme: How well do the artists set the tone for the album? You have to think about the purpose of this album. Why a collaboration? why now? Why the throne?
2) What is missing: Its important to know there are very few feature son this album both features and production. Who is missing? What is missing? How could the absence of something have changed the finished product?
3)Integrity: Separate the two and examine their performance based on their career. Is this the best they've done or could do? Is it similar to what we've seen? How are they elevating their craft?
4) Implications: Look at the album in context. What does this album say about hip-hop as a genre and a culture?
It could very well be that in thinking of all of this you find no real answers. But, it is worth thinking about. And one last thing, who put Kanye and Jay-Z on the throne anyway?