Hip-hop experts and artists weigh in on the highly anticipated joint album.
By Rob Markman
Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne is shaping up to be the most eagerly anticipated album of the year. With that anticipation comes much speculation. Fans, critics and even other rappers themselves are all looking forward to the LP's August 8 release date, trying to predict the impact and outcome of the rap mash-up.
"It should be some big records on there; it's Jay-Z and Kanye West," Jadakiss told MTV News.
Relative rap newcomer Wiz Khalifa also had high hopes, considering the solo legacies Hov and Yeezy have already laid out for themselves. "These are two people who have made great music in the past together, but [also] on their own, so coming together is gonna be an awesome thing," he said. "It can only mean well for hip-hop."
A collaboration of this magnitude yields grand expectations, and while he doesn't doubt their individual greatness, Vibe Editor in Chief Jermaine Hall reminds fans that the Throne are only human. "The expectations are almost unrealistic to match," he said before comparing the duo's artistic plight to that of the late King of Pop. "It seems like Jay and 'Ye could've came up with the second coming of 'Thriller' and people would've been like, 'Yo, that Vincent Price monologue is wack.' It's just impossible to meet those expectations."
Vibe editorial director Datwon Thomas believes that Watch the Throne will meet the hype, mostly because the duo will find inspiration in each other. "One of the things that we've always seen from Jay-Z is the fact that he's always mentioned that he needs inspiration, that he needs a little bit of competition," Thomas said. "Now he's helped groom one of the biggest hip-hop artists of all time and he has him in his own camp."
Elliott Wilson, founder of hip-hop blog Rap Radar, thinks rap needs more collaboration, and in the past few years, too much attention has been paid to soloists. "You know what's lost in hip-hop is the group dynamic," he said before using the Throne's latest single to illustrate his point. "The reason I love 'Otis' a lot is it's so traditional, but yet innovative in a lot of ways. I think the tradition is MC back and forth, pass the mic."
"They got good chemistry already," Styles P said. "That's all it really takes is the good chemistry and the good work ethic and the effort that they've been putting in, but they've been working together for years now, so that shouldn't really be too much of a problem on their own. It's really how the egos blend — that's what I wanna see."
In 2002, Jay-Z dropped Best of Both Worlds with R&B star R. Kelly, but after Kells' personal and legal drama relating to his alleged sex tape with a minor began to surface, Hov backed away from the project. The two reconvened in 2004 on an LP called Unfinished Business, but during that album's subsequent tour, things went awry and the run collapsed. With Kanye and Jay planning a WTT tour, many are wondering how long can they co-exist.
"Are they gonna start fighting over stage lights?" Wilson joked. Thomas doesn't think so; he has faith that if things do get out of hand, there are enough strong personal relationships between the two artists' camps that they will be able to curtail any drama. "If egos start to spark, at the same time, there are enough people to understand that this is a momentous occasion and you can't mess this up," he said.
Jay himself denounced any notion of drama earlier this week when he appeared on New York's Hot 97 and spoke with radio host Angie Martinez, saying the two had a brotherly relationship.
Whatever the case, anticipation for Watch the Throne is at an all-time high. With only days left until it is released on iTunes, fans are clamoring for a listen, wondering just what Jay-Z and Kanye West will bring to the table. Wilson believes that's the way things should be and fans should enjoy the moment. "We love events. That's why the Internet culture is built off of it," he said, "And this lives up to the hype of being an event."
Watch the Throne Week is on! Check in with MTV News every day until Wednesday for exclusive content surrounding the release of Jay-Z and Kanye West's eagerly anticipated LP.Related Videos