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In the mid-2000s, it seems you couldn’t watch a hip-hop video without seeing rapper Jonathan Mortimer Smith, aka Lil’ Jon of Lil’ Jon and the Eastside Boyz featured.
He was everywhere and did collaborations with everyone from Usher and Ludacris, to Bay Area rapper E-40. Nowadays, it seems as if he’s faded into the background and made way for Kanye West.
West has done collaborations with everyone from Rihanna to Katy Perry. His latest collaboration is with New York rapper Jay-Z. “Watch The Throne” is the first collaborative album by West and Jay-Z. Both men have made their way around on the rap scene and have definitely left their own marks along the way. Jay-Z alone has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and has endeavored into financial projects such as making his own clothing line, Rocawear.
West has won 14 Grammy awards, has his own fashion line, and in a media-filled competition, outsold rapper 50 Cent in album sales in 2007. With stats like these, one can assume that West and Jay-Z don’t have anything to prove to the public, but their collaborative project is rather impressive.
“Watch The Throne” is nothing more than two good rappers doing what they do best without all the controversy that oftentimes surrounds rap tunes.
Sorry, but if you want rage-injected rhymes chock-full of drug use and sex, look up rappers such as Tupac, because West and Jay-Z seemingly have looked back to the foundations of rap to make this album.
They rap about what they want to rap about, without having executive producers dictating to them what they should and should not say, like so many of today’s rap artists do. Although, that’s not to say that this CD doesn’t have its share of boasting, as is evident on the song, “Otis,” when Jay-Z said, “I invented swag.” But then again, it’s not surprising, given the fact that both West and Jay-Z can at times seem overly confident.
The beats in “Watch the Throne” complement the lyrics and subject matter very well. But more than that, the duo has paid tribute to the late, soulful legend Otis Redding, by using music from his song, “Try a Little Tenderness,” which makes “Otis” more than your typical rap song. West and Jay-Z take a sample from Redding’s song, add beats and rap over the recording. The song, “No Church in the Wild” uses more of a deep bass to resonate throughout the song. This album definitely reflects West’s production skills. The CD sounds more like West featuring Jay-Z, than a collaboration.
As with most rap music these days, “Watch the Throne” does contain explicit lyrics and a parental advisory warning. “Watch the Throne” debuted on the U.S. Billboard 200, which is a feat for any musician. With the release of this album, the future looks very bright for both rappers.
All in all, it’s a good collaborative effort from these two rap moguls.
Sebastian Garcia is a junior at Los Alamos High School.