Kayne West and Jay-Z collaborate on much-acclaimed ‘Watch the Throne’

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In one of the biggest collaborations in the history of the genre, rappers Kanye West and Jay-Z released their first collaboration last week. ‘Watch the Throne’ was released on iTunes only at midnight Monday August 8 most early reviews were glowing. gave it 9 out of 10 stars, calling it “a creative victory at worse and at its very best, a paradigm shift for Hip-Hop.”

The highly-anticipated album was originally intended to just be a five-track EP but in October 2010, West revealed it would be a full album. The 12-track Watch the Throne was produced by, among others, West, 88 keys, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean and Hit-Boy. While it is the first full album collaboration between West and Jay-Z, it’s not the first time these two rap moguls have worked together.

In Jay-Z’s 2001 studio-album The Blueprint, West produced a couple songs showcasing his own style of hip-hop production. Later, the two would join forces to produce the hit songs “Swagga Like Us,” “Run this Town” and “Monster.”

Surprisingly, West and Jay-Z were able to prevent songs from leaking pre-release and the album has already produced two hit singles: “H•A•M” and “Otis.” Currently, the iTunes home page immediately directs potential buyers to the expanded $14.99 configuration of the album without making it clear that a slightly cheaper version exists for $11.99.

The standard edition of the album was available to all retailers — physical and digital – on Friday, but the deluxe CD edition will be given solely to Best Buy for an additional 10 days. Fans who can sit tight for a few days will have cheaper options, as Best Buy is currently listing the standard CD for $9.99 and the expanded edition, which has the same extra tracks as the iTunes version, at $12.99.

Although most initial reviews for the collaboration were positive, they haven’t all praised the two rappers, or their lyrics.

Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly criticized the overall sound of the album, saying “Too much of Watch the Throne sounds cluttered and disjointed, as though Jay and ‘Ye built their garish castle in the sky via FedEx and text messages.”

At the same time, Randall Roberts of the LA Times said “Made in America” was one of the best tracks as “a solid, slow-paced Frank Ocean-teamed jam about the American dream that reveals the main difference between West and Jay-Z: humility.”

It seems with every positive review about either the lyrics or the album’s flow there is an equally negative review. Some discuss the message behind the album, others the rappers themselves.

“Both West and Jay-Z were vocal backers of Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, but now that America is struggling to regain its economic bearings, they rhyme about their private jets, expensive watches and supermodel escapades,” said Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune.

Kanye West

“Dig deep into Throne, past the bacchanal celebration of the finer things in life, and you’ll find the album’s heart: two men grappling with what it means to be successful and black in a nation that still thinks of them as second class.” Time Magazine writer Claire Suddath said.

Images courtesy Jason Persse and musicallies via Flickr.

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