Rap’s royalty joins forces
AN element of surprise is the most obvious way that this album could have been better.
Hip-hop heavyweights, Jay-Z and Kanye West, could have side-stepped the hype that has been stirred up since they announced the project, by simply working on it in secret.
Imagine the shock in the hip-hop and pop communities had this album appeared out of the blue!
That said, it’s a record that delivers on its promise, a killer collaboration by two rap stars who are so successful they have few peers aside from each other.
This album is a no-brainer. It’s the inevitable consummation of careers that have been tangled for many years.
Star-studded guests such as Beyonce, who provides the hook on Lift Off, and Odd Future’s Frank Ocean, with multiple appearances, put the cherry on the cake.
Songs produced by RZA from WuTang, Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest, Swizz Beats and the Neptunes give West plenty to tweak into his current sink-and-all style.
He is unafraid of taking things too far but also he shoots for the stars.
In the sound and style of the music, it’s easily arguable that Throne is a West album with Jay-Z providing cameo vocal spots on every song. Sonically, it is very much a sister album to West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. However, the surprise is Jay-Z influence on West’s music.
Most of those over-the-top, annoying gimmicks that littered MBDTF have been banished here. Jay-Z is the calm editor West often needs.
No Church in the Wild opens the album with strutting beats and bass, Ocean’s low key croon and fierce lyrical imagery from both MCs.
Song number three is a cracking tune with an unprintable title. Inspired by a nasty beat and wickedly simple melody, both rappers go hard. The song’s icy synths and white noise percussion over dubstep rhythms is forward thinking and trendy at once.
Gotta Have It is an early highlight with the guys trading lines and finishing each other’s thoughts.
There’s a low slung beat and some sneaky James Brown samples to round off this hit-in-waiting.
Why I Love You needs to be a single. Period. That bass, that hook, the drama, the opulence quite simply, it’s on fire.
New Day’s chorus takes inspiration from Nina Simone but RZA and West rework the sample into a rare, reflective, introspective rap tune about West and Z’s unborn sons.
It’s worth buying the deluxe version of the album with its four extra songs. One is HAM, the act’s first single. Another, song 13, also sporting a title not fit for print, is one of the album’s best songs.
Misfires are few and far between but include Otis and its disrespectful chopped up vocals stolen from Try a Little Tenderness and Made in America which is just plain dull.
Interestingly, Throne seems to get better with each new spin on the stereo from OK to good to often great within just a few days.