I rarely do this, but today, I want to talk about one of my favorite albums of all time, from practically my two favorite artists of all time. Yes, I am talking about ‘Watch the Throne’.
First and foremost, we gotta talk about “Hard As a Muthafucka”, aka “H.A.M.”, the first song The Throne released back in December 2010/January 2011. At the time, producer Lex Luger was absolutely destroying everything on the rap charts. So it only made sense for Kanye to reach out to him. I knnow many people who find H.A.M. just mediocre in terms of Kanye’s standards, but what I feel they fail to realize is the significance of what was happening. Though Lex Luger was the main producer, of course Kanye had to add his very valuable two cents. ‘Ye adding the opera at the end combined with Luger’s 808’s, had the production sounding almost demonic. Basically, what i’m saying is, I still feel “H.A.M.” Is overlooked to this day because Kanye took the popular trap sound and added shit that sounded epic and wouldn’t have worked for any other rappers.
After “H.A.M.”, the album wasn’t released until 7 months later. Which brings me to my next point: they pretty much avoided the album leaking. The album listening party was at a planeterium. Cell phones were barred so no snippets were posted on social media. All anyone had was word of mouth. Being an avid lurker on KanyeToThe.com, I can recall anticipation of this album being unheard of. I stayed on the forum, along with most Yeezy fanatics, hoping somehow, someway, a leak would happen. I still remember it clearly. It was a Sunday evening and the album finally ended up leaking to the net, only because iTunes made it available for digital purchase unexpectedly on August 1st or 2nd.
Back to the music, when FunkMaster Flex first premiered “Otis”, I remember thinking that its Kanye going back to his ‘College Dropout, ‘Late Registration’ production style, after the beautiful experiments that were ‘808’s & Heartbreaks’ and ‘MBTF’. When production credits finally came out for the album, it was almost unbelievable how one album had tracks from legends such as Swizz Beatz, RZA, Q-Tip, Pharrell, Pete Rock, etc… But also including the two hottest at the time, Lex Luger & Southside.
Moving on, another reason why ‘Watch the Throne’ resonates so much with me, Jay Z is my favorite artist of all time, and I truly believe we’ll never see Jay rap again like the way he did on ‘WTT’, especially in 2016 and beyond. Just listen to “Who Gon’ Stop Me” we can hear Jay black out on that track, especially towards the end of the song. Listening to “The Joy” is like listening to ‘Reasonable Doubt’ era Jay-Z. On top of all that, ‘Ye was snapping on the mic also trying to come at Jay’s neck on every song where they were trading bars.
I can talk about this album all day, but to wrap things up, ‘Watch The Throne’ was a watershed moment for me. It was a great album, with an even better tour. Watching The Throne perform “N*ggas In Paris” 10 times in a row at the Staples Center sounds stupid, but in actuality, each time they performed it again, the arena got more & more hyped. Though Drake/Kanye and J. Cole/Kendrick collab albums have been rumored, I doubt we’ll get a joint hip hop album by two legends as epic as this ever again. Time reveals whether albums are classic or not, so with that being said, 5 years have passed and we’re all still watching The Throne. –A.D.
Travel back to 2011 here.