NEW YORK — No need for Kanye West and Jay-Z to simply watch a throne. Judging by Monday’s reviews and Web response to their new album, Watch the Throne, they should just sit atop it to reign over the realm of hip-hop.
The highly anticipated album from the pair of music masters was met with high praise across the Web only hours after being released exclusively on iTunes at midnight, Monday.
The album received glowing early reviews. Allhiphop.com gave it 9 out of 10 stars, calling it “a creative victory at worse and at its very best, a paradigm shift for hip-hop.”
Musician and producer Questlove of Grammy-winning band The Roots took to Twitter in the wee hours of the morning, enthralled by Jay-Z’s performances on an emerging fan favourite. He tweeted: “Hov’s verse on ‘Who Gone Stop Me’ is gettin a 4th listen at 2am.”
Hip-hop historian and deejay Davey D was so impressed he tweeted that Watch the Throne “is better than illmatic, 36 chambers, Aquemini, Sgt Pepper & Joshua Tree combined,” referring to albums from Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Outkast, the Beatles, and U2.
Davey D was accused of getting carried away by journalist and author Toure, who tweeted, “friends don’t let friends overhype.” But even Toure was impressed, calling the album “great,” and lauding the “substantive” lyrics on tracks like New Day on which Kanye and Jay-Z address their future sons.
Only a few comments steered towards negative. The Chicago Tribune’s Greg Kot gave the album two out of four stars and called Kanye “desperate, transparent, awkward, vulnerable.” He also said Jay-Z lost his steam.
“He no longer needs to surprise us, he simply needs to file annual updates reminding us that, after all, he’s Jay-Z and you’re not,” Kot said.
Hip-hop fans have been waiting impatiently for Watch the Throne since Kanye West first mentioned it on Twitter almost a year ago. The two have a storied history, dating back to more than a decade ago when Kanye West got his big break producing for artists signed to Roc-a-Fella records, the label co-founded by Jay-Z.
But a lot of the buzz surrounding the album has nothing to Jay-Z or West, Singer-songwriter Frank Ocean’s two guest appearances on the tracks No Church and New America, made him a popular topic online Monday. The album also features guest appearances by Beyoncé and Mr Hudson, as well as vocal work from late soul singers Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield.
Mixtape DJ Mick Boogie tweeted, “I feel like Frank Ocean is channelling his inner mos def on ‘no church’ – not a bad thing.”
West might want to take note of all the positive buzz. Over the weekend, he went on a rant during a show in England in which he said people look at him like he’s Adolf Hitler.
The 34-year-old who has earned a reputation for outlandish behaviour, broke into the middle of his set during the Big Chill music festival on Saturday night to talk about how much he was misunderstood and underappreciated.
“I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I’m insane, like I’m Hitler,” he said to boos from the crowd. “One day the light will shine through and one day people will understand everything I ever did.”
West is known for public outbursts. He grabbed the microphone away from Taylor Swift while she was being honoured for best female video at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards and said Beyoncé should have won the award.
In 2005, West said: “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” during a Hurricane Katrina telethon.