West, Jay-Z effort details life successes

Nathan Mills


Not long ago, one of the most-anticipated rap albums in recent memory hit store shelves. No, it wasn’t Tha Carter IV, it was Watch the Throne.

The joint album from hip-hop heroes Jay-Z and Kanye West isn’t the first time the two have worked together. In fact, producing some of Jay’s music in the early 2000s is what sent West’s career into the spotlight.

When the collaboration was announced, many suspected egos would get in the way as the two competed for hip-hop supremacy, but you’d never be able to tell from listening to the album.

The two put their best feet forward, kicking the album off with “No Church in the Wild.” This track may seem a little dark, and it seems that’s the purpose. Frank Ocean haunts throughout the song, chanting “What’s a king to a god?/ What’s a god to a non-believer/ Who don’t believe in anything?”

The next song features Beyoncé heavily and as such comes off more as one of her songs than one that belongs on this album. Unless you love the queen of hip-hop, skip it.

Track 3 picks up where “No Church in the Wild” left off, though, producing a hard beat and one of the catchiest hooks recently heard in serious rap.

That’s only a breakdown of three tracks, but that trio is indicative of the entire album.

These two rap gods have produced an album that bounces back and forth between traditional pop rap and hard-hitting, scintillating prose accompanied by beats designed to blow the mind.

From top to bottom, while the album is a great listen musically, it seems lyrically to be a commentary on what it is to be a powerful black man in America.

West sums it up best on track 7, “Murder to Excellence” (which is actually two tracks blended together). He said, “In the past if you picture events like a black tie/ What the last thing you expect to see, black guys.”

In a way that only these two can, they’re using their music to draw attention to the fact that it isn’t just the white, upper-class male who can achieve success these days. Though the road to get there will be bumpy, success and power are open to all in modern America.

It’s a lesson that needs to be taught, and West and Jay-Z present it in a way that almost makes you forget you’re picking it up.

Is it The Black Album? No. Is it My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy? No. But this has to be considered among the best albums for both men, and it’s definitely in the running for best collaborative album to date.