The Best Albums of 2011: #18

Jay-Z & Kanye West: Watch the Throne

Just a few years ago, Kanye West had one of the most public meltdowns of recent memory on the MTV Music Awards, in the wake of the untimely death of his mother. After some time away from the limelight, West went to work on what would be the high-water mark of his already illustrious career with last year’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Never one to rest on his laurels, West took another bold step by teaming up with hip-hop luminary Jay-Z, to record #18 on my list: Watch the Throne. Just a glance at the album cover and you can get an idea of the message Jay-Z and West are trying to get across: that life is good and they know it.  On the standout track “N****s in Paris” Jay-Z and West pretty much sum it all up. The duo raps about anything and everything (expensive watches, women, money, even the NY Nets), you name it. In fact, the timing of the album has struck some as odd given the times. Nevertheless, they still manage to sneak in some emo (“New Day”), a few disses (“Why I Love You”), and some fun (“Otis”). While the album is a bit uneven, it’s generally a strong effort, and whatever faults it may have must be taken into context, considering the might of these two artists.

Select Cuts: Niggas in Paris, Why I Love You, Illest Motherf*cker Alive

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2 thoughts on “The Best Albums of 2011: #18

  1. Though its moments of gravitas surpass expectations, Watch The Throne is far from a flawless work. More than anything, the album suffers from peculiar sequencing and lack of cohesive vision, a unexpected misstep from any project involving the meticulous Mr. West. The album feels a bit slapdash, with fits and starts and half ideas about progression that never seem to resolve. Opening track “No Church In The Wild” builds momentum like a bullet train, but loses it nearly instantaneously at the hands of a flow-killing instrumental outro. That same instrumental snippet appears elsewhere on the album, seemingly at random, following “New Day” (track six) and “Welcome To The Jungle (track eight) and leading into the album’s first bonus track, “Illest Motherfucker Alive” – a track that also sports a puzzling 3 minutes of silence at its outset.

    • I really can’t disagree with any of that. The sequencing is puzzling. But I think I gave deference to the album, simply because the album’s highs (“N***** in Paris”), outweigh the lows (“Otis”).

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