In the year 2011, the impossible has just happened: We’re actually hearing an album for the first time on the day it’s released. It’s a testament to just how much Jay-Z and Kanye West run this shit that Watch the Throne, one of the year’s most anticipated albums, never leaked in full in advance–somehow, the album’s twelve songs (minus lead single “Otis,” which saw official release a few weeks ago) have remained under lock and key until today, when the album was made available for download on iTunes. Nevertheless, it is finally here, and now that we’ve given it a couple spins, we feel qualified to share our thoughts on the year’s biggest collaborative project with you. Stay tuned to Popdust as we review each of the album’s dozen tracks, starting from the beginning…
Track 1: “No Church in the Wild” Featuring Frank Ocean
Sounds Like: One of the darker tracks on Kanye’s 808s & Heartbreak album, complete with a 16-bar verse of cartoonishly auto-tuned crooning. Occasional animal sounds (“the wild”) augment a growling bass line, choppy synths and a pounding drum track, with golden-throated Odd Future lieutenant Frank Ocean showing up to sing the hook.
Pros: It’s damn foreboding for an opener, impressively tense and fairly exciting. Jay sets things off at an appropriately grandiose level with his “Tears on the mausoleum floor / Blood stains the coliseum doors” opening couplet, and Kanye taking the imagery to the next level with his introduction, “Coke on her black skin made a stripe like a Zebra / I call that Jungle Fever.” It’s one of the album’s most purely cinematic tracks, its menacing throb sounding like the perfect prelude to a big action scene, or a creepy soundtrack to a particularly ill-advised sex scene.
Cons: All involved go a little thick with the religious imagery at points, resulting in awkward lyrical moments like “Your love is my scripture / Let me into your encryption” and “Is Pious pious cause God loves pious?”
Definitive Self-Aggrandizing Lyric: “Jesus was a carpenter, ‘Yeezy laid beats / Hov spit that Holy Ghost, get the hell up out your seats.”
Song Winner: Kanye, for the “jungle fever” couplet and the more-with-less party/hangover summation: “Sunglasses and Advil / Last night was mad real.”