The Throne - Illest Motherfucker Alive (Def Jam, 2011)
So, Watch The Throne was released little more than a day ago and it had the internet goin’ nutz (© Paul Wall, 2005). Lots of people wrote reviews about the album only a few hours removed from its release, and some bloggers started writing those reviews before they’d even heard the album. No one needs to, or should, write about this album, yet I have thought about it enough and digested the content to the point that I feel the need to dispose of it in some form. What comes next maybe diarrhea in text form.
First, the song featured, Illest Motherfucker Alive, is the “hidden song” that bridges the gap between the standard and deluxe versions of the album. It’s produced by Waka Flocka’s main contributor, Southside, along with additional work done by Kanye himself and his personal MPC carrier, Rap-A-Lot legend Mike Dean. Like H.A.M, this is clearly part of the first incarnation of Watch The Throne (apparently there were three different versions of this album before the conclusive one); one which, from the sounds of it, aimed to be an art-house Flockaveli. Which is an incredibly interesting idea, far more intriguing than the final product could ever hope to be, but I digress. This is the castle music Jay and Ye promised to bring us when the project was announced.
When you take Southside’s 808s and sprinkle them with Kanye’s bells, whistles, and church choirs, expertly mixed by Mike Dean, you get something that transcends the sum of all its parts and stands as a strong entry both Ye and Jay’s discography. At least from a production standpoint; the rapping, like many others places on the album, aims too high and falls into complacent territory. Kanye names off every famous Russell he knows with no connection other than their being famous, being Russell and knowing Kanye, while Jay name-checks Michael Jordan, The Beatles, Robert De Niro, AND Scarface all in perhaps the most cliche verse he’s ever written. But you know what? It works. Watch The Throne just .. fucking works, despite and in spite of everything it has going for it and against it.
The album presents a lot to work with when it comes to writing, but it doesn’t really make itself all that interesting to write about. Writing about this album almost feels obligatory, like there’s some sense of obligation that comes with this release just because it’s Kanye and Jay. The same can be said about both Jay and Kanye at this point in their careers - the idea of their albums are far more interesting than the actual content. But does that make Watch The Throne bad? Do we need innovative techniques and profound content to really enjoy music?
Watch The Throne is The Hangover 2 of albums, if I can give a recent example. A wholly enjoyable experience that I find myself returning to frequently, but I never walk away from it with anything. It’s a hell of a ride while it lasts, but you forget it the instant it’s over until you get the itch to revisit again. Like The Hangover 2, both of these projects’ success can be solely attributed to their creators’ previous triumphs, and despite the industry standards and cloned ideas each present, they still remain feel good experiences. Perhaps because each was given a bottomless budget, and their creators have enough talent to create something enjoyable when they’re coasting on their laurels alone.
Album of the year? Nah. Classic? Definitely not. But does that really matter? Watch The Throne’s impact may not exceed its own boundaries, but it’s satisfying for the moment, and that’s all life is a series of.
And yes, I’d still rather Observe The Ferraris.