Fresh Off The Press | Watch The Throne

Congratulations to Jay-Z and Kanye are in order for taking on the entire internet-using community and winning. In the current insta-gratification world we live in, it is all too common for a highly anticipated album to leak out ahead of its expected release date. "The Throne" managed do what was thought impossible and beat the system by releasing their body of work the old fashioned way: on time! *gasp* Needless to say, hype achieved unprecedented levels, and the moment the album was released on iTunes, many in the hip-hop community straight soiled themselves. Probably.

Sure I could take the high road and save the internet from yet another opinion on something that without a doubt has been overly discussed and scrutinized, but wouldn't that defeat the whole purpose of one's blog? Where's the fun in that?

1. No Church In The Wild ft. Frank Ocean - Interestingly enough, it isn't a verse from Jay or Kanye that kicks off the record, but rather it's Frank Ocean's voice who delivers the song's chorus. With such an amazing co-sign from two legendary artists, we can all expect to hear Odd Futures' resident crooner on many more hooks to come. A pretty simple Kanye bass line-driven beat acts as a buildup for the album if anything else. As far as the verses go, I was relieved to hear Jay back on a faster flow than displayed on BP3.

2. Lift Off ft. Beyonce - This track could've been so much more. Not to say this is by any means a bad song, but with such a great instrumental in place, it seemed a shame to hear mostly Beyonce's chorus, Kanye's singing and Jay's bad excuse for a verse performed in lazy flow mode. The breakdown of the beat at the end somewhat redeemed these shortcomings and also worked to blend excellently into Niggas in Paris. (Woah can I type that?)

3. Niggas In Paris (...everybody cool?) - Blades Of Glory sample cracks me up every time. "That shit cray!"

4. Otis ft. Otis Redding - Chuck D criticized this song for it's use of an Otis sample to rhyme about braggadocio. Originally I felt the same way, wondering why "The Throne" couldn't have rapped about something more meaningful. However, nowadays I feel that such an aggressive beat couldn't have been used to its full effect in any other way. Either way, I'm not a big fan of that screaming.

5. Gotta Have It - I was really expecting more of a traditional "I Gotcha" style beat from the Neptunes, so I was completely surprised to hear an Asian influenced sound. Had I guessed, I would've credited the beat to an early 2000's Timbaland. The instrumental is quite repetitive, so it was a good choice to make the song short and sweet.

6. New Day - This was one of my most anticipated songs to hear on the album mainly because: Jay-Z x RZA. The auto-tune sample in the background of the song definitely put me off at first, but it works much better upon multiple listens. Jay and Kanye reflecting upon their potential future children makes for arguably the most personal and compelling subject matter on the album.

7. That's My Bitch ft. Elly Jackson - Heard an unfinished version of this song a while ago, but damn they did great job on mastering it. Track reminds me of Kanye's "Lost In The World" in the tribal drums meets the future kind of way. "Q-Tip on the beat too!"

8. Welcome To The Jungle - *Phew* Swizz Beatz managed to make a pretty decent beat for once. The violin takes Swizzy's simple beat and transforms it into exactly the kind of dark hip-hop I expected to hear on Watch The Throne since H.A.M. came out. Funny that this was the only song I was worried about when I first read the official track listing, and I once thought that Swizz would actually sample "Welcome To The Jungle" for a hip-hop song...

9. Who Gon Stop Me - What the? Is that dubstep? Am I still listening to the collaboration album by Kanye West and Jay-Z called Watch The Throne? Not too bad...

10. Murder To Excellence - Possibly my favorite song on the album, which is about African-American culture's history of violence on "Murder" and then halfway through the song a sudden change of perspective with "Excellence". The powerful sample on the beat definitely provides the winning touch. Looking at the liner notes, it was interesting to see Quincy Jones' name among the contributors since he is one of my favorite producers of all-time for his work with the late Michael Jackson.

11. Made In America ft. Frank Ocean - Nice to hear a more uplifting track that departs from the darker beats that made up the rest of the album. Kanye reminisces on his rise to success while Jay recalls his earlier street hustling days. Frank provides a gentle hook that really gives the song that final push from feel good to feel great. Did you know that it was Kanye's mom who met No I.D. and set up the meeting between them? Ya me neither.

12. Why I Love You ft. Mr. Hudson - This song, in my mind, truly redeems my faith in Jay-Z as a rapper. Nothing but Reasonable Doubt flow on this one. The track mainly features Jay-Z on vocal duty, while Kanye provides an excellent back and forth that I really appreciate when it comes to hip-hop. Hov back!

I doubt there is anyone out there who hasn't just downloaded the whole album, but if you have no space on your iPod or something, I'd call these necessities:

Niggas In Paris

New Day

That's My Bitch ft. Elly Jackson

Murder To Excellence

Why I Love You ft. Mr. Hudson