Michael Heal – Watching The Throne - Two Years Later
On the 7th of August 2011, I sat at my computer eagerly awaiting the 12:01 release of Kanye West and Jay Z's collaboration album; Watch The Throne. Two years later I sit on the other side of the world thinking back to how this album changed the rap game forever. Such a change can only be achieved by being ahead of the times - something WTT excelled at. The album was not just your regular hip-hop album, but an experience. This experience encompassed two of the biggest names in the business, as well as their fans.
The experience I refer to is the united individual elements of the album; the music, the fashion and the delivery. The music is fresh and innovative, it pushes the envelope on how to make a "hip-hop album," This came through most notably in the production, which the majority of, is still better than what's currently being released. Tracks like "No Church in the Wild" and "Otis" are impeccable, the sample in "Otis" was so forward, but at the same time, fucking beautiful. The poignant screams from Otis Redding coupled with the conscious anthem "Murder to Excellence" where Ye's voice still rings through:
Runs deep for both emcees who spit about their respective cities. It brings social issues to the forefront through a major release, something rare in the current industry. However, this album was not limited to and only beautiful, conscious street music, bangers were also produced. "Niggas in Paris" is still being played in every nightclub, two years later. Not only was it the hottest song of the last two years, produce the most talked about word of the year but the lyricism is top notch. Your typical club, "feel good" hip-hop record does not posses these qualities.
The fashion sets the tone - it's art, period. This forward, dark and high quality noir was and is the brainchild of Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci. He designed the album art, tour clothes and the majority of the pieces Ye wore offstage during the time period. The current "street goth" trend came out of this project. Lead by Kanye's eccentric, yet minimalistic all black look, The Throne was the flyest pair out - literally. The culmination of the WTT tour and the most coveted sneaker release of the year; Nike's Air Yeezy 2's made them synonymous with the Watch The Throne aesthetic. The fashion was the visual aesthetic associated with the music, it reflected the black excellence, the "I don't give fuck" attitude, and the life of luxury goods. What other albums can or did affect not only it's own genre but an adjacent art medium?
The delivery. It's how we received this album that really made it special. The midnight digital release, the guerrilla marketing and the tour is what set this album apart. Recently there's been alot of talk regarding Yeezy's guerrilla marketing tactics for "New Slaves", however, wind this back to early 2012 and the "Nigga's In Paris" video was projecting onto buildings in London. We were getting a taste of the future.
It's just different, it's just different. They have concerts, it's just different. They make songs, it's just different. They do they song once, it's just different. This is not a hip-hop concert.
The Throne encapsulates the time period. It is a direct snippet of what hip-hop pop culture was in 2011/2012. Without knowing, Kanye West and Jay Z have set the standard for not only collaboration albums but hip-hop artists in general. Other artists must expand their horizons, challenge themselves and give the fans something more than 60 minutes of music. There may not be a better complete experience for a long time. The question is, if Watch The Throne 2 comes, can they outdo themselves?
What do you think about Watch The Throne as a full album experience? Comment below or hit me up on twitter @mhealx.
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