Long Live The Kings: MLL's Song-By-Song Analysis of "Watch The Throne"
In case you haven't heard — if you haven't, you clearly haven't been on the internet in at least 24 hours — Kanye and Jay-Z have dropped their much-hyped double album 'Watch The Throne' to the music world. In short, it's a massive sonic experience, with beats handpicked by your favourite producer's favourite producers (Neptunes and RZA, anyone?) and rhymes that put Dr. Seuss to shame. We gave 'Watch The Throne' the MetroLyrics royal treatment, compiling a song by song analysis complete with our favourite verses and homemade hashtags. Tip: These sovereign sounds are best heard with your most regal red velvet cape on and a royal scepter in your grasp.
*This is hot off the press, so we apologize in advance if any of the following links are removed from YouTube.
1. No Church In The Wild
"Jesus was a carpenter, Yeezy, he lay beats/Hova flow the Holy Ghost, get the hell up out your seats."
Kanye and Jay were smart to let someone else open the album for them. I can only imagine the argument between two of rap's biggest egos over which one of them is more deserving of leading off the album. Instead they chose up-and-coming R&B crooner Frank Ocean to sing a silky chorus over a slinking beat. No Church In The Wild is packed with religious and philosophical allusions. And if that doesn't give you an idea of how these two guys see themselves, maybe this lyric from Jay will: "Jesus was a carpenter, Yeezy, he lay beats/Hova flow the Holy Ghost, get the hell up out your seats." Yeah, 'nuff said.
2. Lift Off
"How many people you know can take it this far?"
Lift Off is a loud song. But really what else is to be expected with a musical trifecta of orchestral horns, actual space shuttle launch sound effects — reportedly recorded at a recent NASA launch — and the voice of Beyonce? I get the feeling that the chorus had the potential to be a tad bit more anthemic. But as Beyonce sings "We gon' take it to the moon, take it to the stars," it becomes pretty clear that we're about to lift off into a pretty epically large sounding album.
3. Ni**as In Paris
"You are now watchin' the throne, don't let me enter my zone."
Kanye and Jay accomplish a few impressive things on the album's third track. First, they manage to work a couple of lines from the Will Ferrell comedy 'Blades of Glory' into the track. I know, I was like 'HUH?' when I first heard it too. Second, Ye and Hov coin a new internet buzzword: Cray (it's like crazy, but for people that are two lazy for two-syllable words). And you know what? I'll take it. At this point, anything is better than the much-overused 'SWAG', right? Finally, Yeezy manages to spit one of my favourite lines from the whole album: Prince William's ain't do it right, if you ask me/ 'Cause if I was him I woulda Mary-d Kate and Ashley." If you're scoring at home, that's one for 'The Throne', zero for the Royal Family.
#CRAY (C'mon, you had to see that one coming, right?)
"By far, Otis Redding was the single most extraordinary talent I have ever seen. There was no comparison. Then or now." - Legendary rock promoter Bill Graham
"Pray that all of their pain be champagne."
Featuring snippets of Redding's classic "Try A Little Tenderness", the second single off #WTT is essentially Yeezy and J-Hova shoving all their money in everybody's face, which totally matches the hard-hitting essence of the song. The combination of their humble idol Otis and the lavish lifestyle the duo describes doesn't seem to match up, until my favorite lyrics from the song are spewed by Kanye. Nice juxtaposition, fellas.
5. Gotta Have It
"LOLOLOL to White America, assassinate my character."
Produced by The Neptunes, who rarely use samples, the super-cool WHAT-WHAT YOU NEEDs are...drumroll...James Brown! The use of the soul king's vocals sound super rad, and then to top it all off, KW & JZ reference Ferris Bueller's Day Off with the line "I'ma need a day off, I think I'll call Ferris up". Not too shabby, boys. *applause*
6. New Day
"See, I just want 'im to have an easy life, not like Yeezy life."
Sampling the amazing Nina Simone version of "Feeling Good" (which should be a staple song on everybody's iPod), Jay and Kanye speak to their future sons about how they're going to raise them right. It's a song I wasn't expecting to hear from the pair, who are infamous for bragging about their dolla dolla bills, y'all. It's one of my favorites for its truthful tone and tasteful use of Simone's soulful pipes. When are Beyonce and Jay-Z gonna have a baby already?!?!?!?
7. That's My Bitch
"How can somethin' so gangsta be so pretty in pictures? / With jeans and a blazer and some Louboutin slippers."
La Roux! Bon Iver! This Q-Tip-produced song has some indie cred. It starts off with Kanye being kind of pervy (what else is new) but essentially he's talking about introducing women to his lifestyle. Jay-Z's verse is a little more relatable since everyone knows his famous wife Beyonce. He talks about how gangster she is, how she's not a golddigger and how she's prettier than the Mona Lisa (um...duh!). Overall, this is my favourite song on the album, and no, it's not as offensive as the title might suggest. Oh and art lovers: Basquiat, Picasso and Leonardo Da Vinci are all mentioned in this song. Cool?
8. Welcome To The Jungle
On Welcome To The Jungle, Jay-Z tells us what it's like to be, well, the King of the Jungle for over a decade in the rap game. Swizz Beatz growls the chorus lines as Jay roars like a lion through his verses. This might be a dual album, but Hova does the heavy lifting here, spitting honest raps about the trials and tribulations of his long career. If we can take anything away from Jay's rhymes, it's that, apparently, success can be a bit lonely at times: "I'm losing myself, I'm stuck in the moment/I look in the mirror, my only opponent."
9. Who Gon Stop Me
"I'm at the table, I'm gamblin / Lucky lefty, I expect a seven / I went through hell, I'm expectin heaven."
Like most of Jay-Z and Kanye's songs, Who Gon Stop Me is a triumphant anthem for the level of success and fame they've attained. The production is a little abrasive but palatable and will appeal to fans of dubstep; it samples Flux Pavilion's I Can't Stop. No lyrical surprises here, Yeezy raps about money and sex and Jay raps about his journey from drug pusher to superstar.
10. Murder To Excellence
"In sheepskin coats, I silence the lambs / Do you know who I am, Clarice?"
The energy on politically charged Murder To Excellence, makes it more of a military march than a song. The chants and bongos act as easy to follow escorts through the dark lyrical content as Hova and Kanye wax poetic on war of both the international and street variety. Even though the track deals with some pretty heavy themes, the song takes a shift sonically and lyrically at around the 2:42 mark where both rappers find room to throw in some very opulent references (see: Obama, Gucci, Maybachs).
11. Made In America
"Started a little blog just to get some traffic / Old folks tell you not to play in traffic / A million hits and the web crashed - damn!"
With Jay-Z pledging allegiance to his nana's banana pudding, and Yeezy commenting on his mom's connection to No I.D., Made In America is the obligatory "won't forget where I came from" track on WTT. Frank Ocean makes his second appearance, lulling the listener as "Sweet Baby Jesus" floats out of his gold-plated vocal chords. Ocean's serenade and the tiny piano (Schroeder, is that you?) make Made In America a cute, mellow song and the perfect come down track to distract you from the seriousness in the preceding Murder To Excellence.
12. Why I Love You
"When the grief is over / Beef is over / I'll be fly when Easter's over."
Sampling Cassius's I Love You So, Why I Love You laments Jay-Z's rap friendships gone sour. Keeping mum on the deets, Jay doesn't name names but clearly expresses disappointment in his peers's lack of hustle — hence why he's still on the throne. There's a certain vulnerability in Hova's revelation that "Caesar didn't see it so he ceased to exist / So the n*gga that killed him had the keys to his sh*t" which clearly shows that your best friends can often be your worst enemies, especially in the rap game. Despite Jay and Kanye flaunting their assets throughout the entire album, they refreshingly admit a subtle paranoia about others creepin' on a come-up. Hmmm...not so tough no mo'?
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