August 19, 2011 11:13 pm

Jay-Z and Kanye West: Watch the Throne

A charismatic collaboration between rap’s biggest names

Watch the Throne is a messy but charismatic collaboration between two of rap’s biggest names.

Musically it’s all over the place, from the punchy Otis Redding-sampling “Otis” to the self-important synth bluster of “Who Gon Stop Me” while the duo’s raps are an egotistic blend of wealth-flaunting swagger – “luxury rap” as Kanye West calls it – and angry social commentary.

You sense that West, a bolder gambler than his mentor Jay-Z, is the spur for the album’s braver moves, like the RZA-produced “New Day” with its Auto-Tuned Nina Simone sample, but Jay-Z makes off with the lyrical crown, playing the outlaw black entrepreneur – “Can’t you see we getting money up from under you?” he slyly points out, casting a new light on the bragging about luxury marques – to West’s unsympathetically jaded hedonist.

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Watch the Throne

(Roc-a-Fella/Roc Nation/Def Jam)

3 stars

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