Consumer Guide Album
Jay Z Kanye West: Watch the Throne [Roc-A-Fella, 2011]
The three minutes of silence that rope off the first 12 songs signify that those songs constitute a unity and the deluxe edition's four bonus tracks are too much. Soon, as if on signal, two matched operatic choruses take the project's regal grandiosity over the top. But nowhere else does this gorgeous show of power trigger your gag reflex; in fact, the echoing grunts and swooping oohs of the Pete Rock-produced, Curtis Mayfield-keyed 16th track would have provided a hell of a regular-album finale with no loss of unity whatsoever. The only question is whether these guys' regal glory is of any intrinsic interest to those of us who regard power as something to speak truth to, and the answer is hell yeah, because it's been forever since stars of this magnitude were also so dominant artistically. Predictably, Jay's power is more interesting than Ye's, which was funnier and sicker on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Think the patron's proximity made the protegee nervous? Think the patron figured it would? I do.