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The view is pretty good from Kanye’s and Jay-Z’s ‘Throne’

The mega-duo’s collaboration is a grandiose effort

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Illustration: Wes Gatbonton
Shea Serrano

The Details

Kanye West and Jay-Z
Watch the Throne
Four and a half stars

It’s silly to pretend like Watch The Throne, the most anticipated album of the year and seemingly the only album in post-Napster society that didn’t leak, isn’t good, or at least interesting. Or at least rich. Or at least contemplative. Or at least a little facetious. Or at least extra serious. Or at least hyper-preposterous.

In parts, it’s all of those.

But in its guts, Throne is essentially the continuation of the lifestyle-peddling that Rick Ross did on Teflon Don. The difference: when they aggro-brag, it’s hard to tell if they’re being neo-deterministic or just being fatalists. Either way, though, they’re being honest, and for some, that’s going to be a tad grating.

Kanye and Jay-Z are removed by enough spaces/days/experiences that, barring the apocalypse or Brad Pitt and Edward Norton getting their act together proper, they will never know what it’s like to be a normal human being.

Which is why what’s bizarre to consider about Throne, or what will be perceived and horned as bizarre, is that Jay and Kanye are rapping about ridiculous things that are not ridiculous to them. In their world, the idea of minimalism, let alone the aesthetic, is atrocious.

Of course Kanye has an other, other Benz. Duh. Of course Jay-Z probably has planked on a million dollars. Double duh.

The album is not dipped in mysticism, as the liner notes would imply in jest or as the slants towards a God complex would imply or as the circus-y horror-movie antics that wander in and out of focus on “No Church In The Wild” and “New Day” and “Welcome to the Jungle” would imply.

It is simply a rolled-tight, impressively grandiose thicket of songs delivered from Zeus’s cloud, where you’ve never been and where Jay has been for long enough that he feels contented and Kanye has been for long enough that he’s a little irritated.

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