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Track by Track Review: Jay-Z & Kanye West - 'Watch the Throne' Deluxe

Album: Watch the Throne
Artist(s): Jay-Z & Kanye West
Released: August 8, 2011
Label: Roc-A-Fella, Roc Nation, Def Jam
Rating: 9.2 out of 10

Kanye West and Jay-Z's first collaborative album as the Throne, officially went on sale last week; digitally first, followed by a hard copy release. We wanted to wait until the hype died down about the album to give our views and honest thoughts about it. However, if you haven't done so already, GO OUT AND BUY THE ALBUM!

1. "No Church in the Wild" (featuring Frank Ocean) ; Produced by 88-Keys, Kanye West, Mike Dean

I think it is absolutely amazing that the FIRST voice you hear on such a historical compilation is none other than Odd Future singer Frank Ocean who is fairly new to the spotlight. The-Dream also lends his vocals to the album's opener. The track opens up with a western-type guitar sample before taking some samples from James Brown's "Don't Tell A Lie About Me and I Won't Tell the Truth About You." Jay-Z has said that this is one of his favorites on the album. Note: a lot of us would like to know what the tune is that plays after the track and a few others on the album.

2. "Lift Off" featuring Beyoncé; Produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean, Q-Tip, Pharrell, & Don Jazzy

A lot of people think this song is out of place on the album. I can understand what they mean, but I personally think it adds a nice touch. Beyoncé joins the Throne for a bass-heavy track. I personally think the tracks outro is one of the highlights of the whole song.

3. "N**gas in Paris"; Produced by Hit-Boy, Kanye West, Mike Dean, Anthony Kilhoffer

Hit-Boy definitely gets the Best Producer of the Album award. The beat that the Throne are rhyming over is what most of us expected for the project; a pure hip-hop banger. The track included an unexpected sample of dialogue from the Will Ferrell/Jon Heder ice-skating comedy Blades of Glory. "No one knows what it means, but it's provocative," says Ferrell. The outro to this track is another highlight. One of my favorites.

4. "Otis"; Produced by Kanye West

The first official single off the album. Kanye samples Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness" and blends it into a "luxury rap" track as displayed in the official video. Jay-Z and Kanye have strong verses, but Redding's shouts and hollers throughout the verses are the main attraction.

5. "Gotta Have It"; Produced by The Neptunes & Kanye West

This track has a nice bounce to it. It's a "tag-team hip-hop" track with the Throne trading off verses and finishing each other's lines.

6. "New Day"; Produced by Kanye West, RZA, Mike Dean, & Ken Lewis

The words and the theme of the song compliments the beat well. Jay and Kanye offer words of wisdom to their unborn sons over a RZA production. Listen to the lyrics. Contains samples from "Feeling Good" as performed by Nina Simone and "My World" by Alex Gilbert

7. "That's My B*tch"; Produced by Kanye West, Q-Tip, Jeff Bhasker

La Roux's Elly Jackson sings the hook on this track. It has an old-school feel to it, but it works. Definitely a head-banger.

8. "Welcome to the Jungle"; Produced by Swizz Beatz

Swizz Beatz is the first voice you hear on the track, "Welcome to the Jungle, Welcome to the Jungle, well.." and you hear is ad-libs through out the whole song. The beat is typical of Swizz Beatz. We all know, Swizz has his own style and it comes through on this track.

9. "Who Gon Stop Me"; Produced by Shama "Sak Pase" Joseph, Kanye West, Mike Dean

"This is something like the Holocaust, millions of our people lost," West raps over a heavy dubstep bass line, his voice processed into a sinister, tinny growl. The track samples "I Can't Stop" by Flux Pavilion and even catches 'Ye rapping in pig latin! Overall, the sample compliments the dubstep beat.

10. "Murder to Excellence"; 'Murder' produced by Swizz Beatz, 'Excellence' produced by S1

The song is essentially a diptych, with Kanye ruminating on black-on-black violence in the first half and Hov delivering a "celebration of black excellence" on the more jubilant second half. Interesting to listen to. It contains samples from "La La La" by Indiggo and "Celie Shaves Mr./Scarification" by Quincy Jones. It's a hot track.

11. "Made in America" featuring Frank Ocean; Produced by Shama "Sak Pase" Joseph, Mike Dean

Frank Ocean returns for his second feature on the album to sing a hook that pays tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King, Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz and the sweet baby Jesus on the album's most serene track. Ye & Jay both deliver sentimental verses, but Ocean holds the weight. The piano adds a nice touch too.

12. "Why I Love You" featuring Mr. Hudson; Produced by Mike Dean, Kanye West, Anthony Kilhoffe

Another one of my favorites from the album. Mr. Hudson sings the hook containing samples from "I Love You So" by Cassius. Seems like Hov could be talking about his fallen Roc-A-Fella soldiers on his verse. This song has one of my favorite outros of the album. "Bussin' at me, bu-bu-bussin' at me" is how it opens up with Hov and it finishes with Hov & 'Ye finishing each other lines. Love it!

13. "Illest Motherf**ker Alive" Produced by Southside, Kanye West, Mike Dean

These songs are "bonus tracks." Confused as to why "Illest Motherf**ker Alive" opens with three solid minutes of silence, but it's worth the wait! This song goes in! I can definitely see people in the club yelling, "I need a slow motion video right now!" This song alone is worth the extra money for the deluxe album. This is another track that features elements that would come to mind when a lot of us thought about Watch the Throne prior to it's release.

14. "H.A.M."; Produced by Lex Luger

The album's first single has been downgraded to a bonus track (thankfully). This was our first taste of Watch the Throne and now we can understand why it was added as bonus track. It just doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the album anymore. This song still goes in, and has created a new term in urban language so it still is a winner in my opinion.

15. "Primetime"; Produced by No I.D.

This track is probably as subdued as you can get with a big boom-bap beat. Not the best from No I.D. though.

16. "The Joy"; Produced by Pete Rock

The deluxe version of Watch the Throne concludes with a Pete Rock-produced track that splices together samples from Curtis Mayfield's "The Makings of You" and Syl Johnson's "Different Strokes" to build one of the calmer tracks on the album. It has a nice groove to end of the album.

Click here to buy Watch the Throne!

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