Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

Kanye West and Jay-Z, Watch the Throne

Many of the 15 songs on Kanye West and Jay-Z's opulent collaboration deal with wealth, status and religion. West likens himself to Jesus (again), and Jay-Z offhandedly mentions that he considers $50,000 pocket change. Contributions from Frank Ocean, Q-Tip and the RZA help give the album its booming, complex beats, many of which are aided by samples from some of music's greatest titans: Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield and Nina Simone. But Watch the Throne isn't just an exercise in "luxury rap," as West puts it in "Otis." The rappers explore some pretty dark topics. The history of urban violence in "Murder to Excellence" and their own socioeconomic achievement in "Made in America" help turn Watch the Throne into a beautifully decadent album by two of hip-hop's finest artists — men grappling with what it means to be successful and black in America.

(Warning: song contains foul language)