Does too much anticipation lead to too many expectations? When engaging in conversation of “epicness” about an album that has yet to hit bootleggers or legal distributors alike, one can only wonder. Watch the Throne is the first dual collaboration between Kanye West and Jay-Z. It’s projected to take both reigning rappers on a ride of sibling rivalry so legendary that a new definition of over-stimulation will be necessary afterwards…or so they say.
Already slated as the most anticipated album of the year, Kanye West and Jay-Z have no doubt proven their royalty within the hip-hop community. Having held a listening party with no release date yet announced and no single yet released, all of this talk about Twitter’s trending topic, #WTT, has made quite a raucous amongst more circles than Google Plus.
Pre-orders went into effect on July 4th and three days later, a lone Jay-Z (as Kanye West was overseas) opened up to no more than a group of twenty in New York City, including affiliates of Billboard, MTV, and All Hip Hop. Revealed during the short session that the album had already been reborn three times, Jay-Z vowed that this was done so in attempt to bring the project “down to Earth.”
The following day, reviews piled in and the only rumor solidified as fact was that The Fader was kicked out of the Mercer Hotel secret shindig for violating the open and honest rule set forth at the very beginning — no elaborate tweets. Other requested regulations stated the use of description over depiction of the music, also known as ‘no direct quotes.’ As the journalists obliged, it may be possible that they managed to unconsciously throw their unbiased judgment out the window as well.
Stand out records for the group of lucky listeners, including the very first two people to pre-order the project, were collaborations with the only featured artists, Frank Ocean and Beyoncé. Securing an impressive two-track appearance on the disc now known to be “No Church in the Wild” and “Sweet Baby Jesus,” new crooning sensation Ocean received praise for his inspirational addition and undeniable star presence amongst the two.
The past lives and future aspirations of wannabe fathers to unborn sons in “Gotta Have It” was the most shocking topic, while an Otis Redding sample, African motivations and aggressive punchlines rounded the most reiterated favorites about the project.
The ultimate problem with the reviews is that most were lacking the whole “down to Earth” aspect in itself. While enthusiasm for the album translated across borders, there was little to none criticism of any of the material played. Kanye and Jay-Z were made out to equally battle and conquer their thrones, word choice and word play were portrayed as being top-notch, production was rarely mentioned and many reports reference a new sound or “chemistry” that will “depend on your attitude towards music,” as according to the tweets of Editor-In-Chief of Complex, Noah Callahan-Bever.
The question that can be answered at this point is not whether or not the album is actually good, but will the presented interpretation of this album accurately shape the public’s expectations? The promo song released earlier this year, “H.A.M,” had a major buzz upon its initial release, but lacked any follow-up discussion because it lacked anything special.
The presence of Jay-Z and Kanye West is so strong that their names alone hold such prestige that greatness is already expected before a track begins, but what kind? Should we be awaiting a classic album like none other before, or prepare ourselves for a new sound that may take some getting used to? Will this album change an 11-year-old’s life in the same way Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP changed mine or will it simply be a noteworthy album for the record books?
August 2nd has now revealed to be the official release date along with the full track list, but the hype Kanye West and Jay-Z have created in conjunction with bloggers around the project could damage the sanctity of the artistry. With so much build-up and speculation, the anticipation could be so much that the expectations grow higher than what can be delivered.
Owning up to 15 number one albums between the two, there is no doubt that records will sell, and speakers will hypnotically vibrate and over-perform. What I’m wary of is the percentage of the underwhelmed versus the overjoyed.
Possibly the kings have overstayed their welcome in the conference room. I choose to bow out for now.