Six Years Ago Kanye West and Jay Z Changed Hip-hop Forever Releasing ‘Watch The Throne’

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On what was meant to be a 5-track EP, instead Kanye West and JAY Z teamed up at the peak of their powers to collaborate for 55 minutes of black excellence. Today (August 8th), fans celebrate six years since Watch The Throne‘s release. Even though their relationship may not be as strong as the big brother family ties once were, it still doesn’t take away from the impact this project had in changing the hip-hop landscape forever.

Last week, I detailed how fortunate I was to have Graduation kick off my high-school career. What better way to end it than have Watch The Throne drop in the summer that I prepared to take on the challenge of going away to college. Kanye and Jay broadcasted their braggadocio lifestyle, dealing with fame, racism in connection to materialism, and shed light on the political and socioeconomic problems we still see today.

Look at that in depth analysis from TreeSap himself above on release day. On a more serious note, there aren’t many albums I have a great feeling about after one listen, but I distinctly recall loving this project after my first time through hearing the stories told by Ye and Hov. Weaved into the opulence and decadent themes was my introduction to Frank Ocean, who was featured on “No Church In The Wild” as well as “Made It In America,” which went on to be two of my favorite tracks off the album.

My biggest regret in life to this point is not going to the Watch The Throne Tour stop at MSG in November of 2011. We won’t see anything like that ever again. The WTT Tour spawned the trend of having designers create artist merchandise. Riccardo Tisci, former Creative Director at Givenchy, designed the t-shirts and artwork for the tour and album. To this day I still have a Watch The Throne album cover phone case and don’t plan on changing it anytime soon, as I always come back to anthems like “Niggas In Paris” and “Otis” every few weeks for inspiration.

The collaborative effort was recorded across the globe from Los Angeles, NYC, Paris and England to Hawaii and even Abu Dhabi from November 2010 through the summer of 2011. Calling on a superstar team to help craft the production on the record, much like Kanye did with MBDTF. In addition to the usuals like Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein and Anthony Kilhoffer, legends such as RZA, Swizz Beats, Q-Tip, Pharell and many more left their mark on the Throne, making for some brilliant studio sessions.

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Some of those stories have been recalled by the likes of Roc Nation’s Lenny S. and Complex Editor-In-Chief Noah Callahan-Bever to share with the public.

Ten years after first teaming up on Jay’s Blueprint album for the duo to come together and be able to create a classic body of work is something I will appreciate forever. I know it’s unlikely that there would ever be a sequel, but I am grateful the album came together so flawlessly with tuneful production and genius use of features. (Still wanted to hear Bruno Mars over Beyonce on “Lift Off”)

If you know me, you know I hold this album close and do not tolerate any slander of it, as I believe it can go toe-to-toe with any project ever made. Make sure to honor the Throne and keep WTT heavy in rotation today!

Big Brother

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JAY Z Ages Like Fine Wine On 4:44 Album

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On his 13th studio album, Shawn Carter gets as personal as ever before at the age of 47. Mr. Carter is one of the few that has the power to have the world stop and listen to one of your projects, as Jay enters the third decade of an illustrious career. We’ve never seen Hov this vulnerable, letting us in on his relationship struggles by responding to Bey’s LEMONADE, having to kill his ego, admitting his mother Gloria is a lesbian and even checking little brother Kanye West.

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What he exuded is the realities of black excellence, showing the positive as well as the negatives of being a hip-hop mogul, spokesman and trailblazer all contained within the ingenious 10-track project, which is now available across all major streaming platforms. Jay raps “I’m trying to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99,” which is the over-arching theme of the project in my opinion.

Jay passed along gems that he learned in business throughout his journey. Explaining in the interlude of the powerful “The Story of O.J.” Hov dismisses people throwing money away while flaunting at the strip club instead of investing in themselves for good credit because that is a way to help break through America’s systematic oppression. Comparing that to the Jews who have generational wealth passed on through owning real estate.

Black capitalism related lyrics dominate the project as Jay expresses his commitment to generational wealth and using entrepreneurship to “rinse” the black communities. To continue with “The Story of O.J.” Hov explains his plans of passing on wealth through owning property, using examples of how the value of a DUMBO building property in Brooklyn is now worth 10x more than when he was growing up.

“Financial freedom my only hope Fuck livin’ rich and dyin’ broke I bought some artwork for 1 million 2 years later, that shit worth 2 million Few years later, that shit worth 8 million I can’t wait to give this shit to my children”

The Brooklyn MC called on the legendary Kanye West mentor, No I.D. who handled the production side for the entire project, crafting tuneful beats incorporated with an old-school soulful sound that soothes your well-being. The Chicago producer sampled the likes of Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Donny Hathaway. It’s refreshing that the culture could still enjoy a modern hip-hop album that doesn’t include any trap beats. Jay only exercises the use of Damian Marley and Frank Ocean as features on two tracks throughout 4:44.

Hearing HOV this honest on an album shows that vulnerability still makes for the best art. This is how an artist progresses throughout his career, especially someone who has accomplished as much as Jay has at the age of 47. It may be his 13th album, but Shawn Carter is still finding innovative ways to release his music 21 years after his debut album, where as almost all of the colleagues that joined the game with him in the ’90s are well out of the relevant hip-hop picture.

JAY Z added a footnotes video to explain the deeper meaning of his heartfelt confessional “4:44” to open the album, where he apologizes to his wife Beyonce saying she “matured faster” than him even though he is 12 years her elder. Carter admits his relationship “wasn’t built on 100% truth” and rebuilding the “beautiful mansion” of their marriage was “the hardest thing he’s ever done.” Hov chops it up with other celebrities including Chris Paul, Meek Mill, Will Smith, Michael B. Jordan, Aziz Ansari, Anthony Anderson for some barber shop talk about love and relationships. Check it all out on TIDAL.

Hovi will be coming home to perform at the Barclays Center at the Brooklyn stop of his 4:44 Tour on November 26th. The pricey tickets already sold-out within a few hours for the entire tour, which kicks off in Anaheim, CA on October 27th.

R.I.P. JAY Z