Jay-Z, Kanye take ‘Throne’ in sales

Everything about the promotion of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collaborative album “Watch the Throne” has been eventful. Whether it be the blockbuster lineup of performers, or the method through which the artists chose to distribute it, the album will undoubtedly be a trendsetter musically and in a business sense.

Lyrically, “Watch the Throne” is mostly Jay and Kanye flaunting their excessive millionaire lifestyles. Boasts of driving a Rolls Royce, flying in private jets and owning paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol may not appeal to everyone.

If you see no entertainment value in two pivotal pop culture figures of the 21st century celebrating their love for materialism, it will not be an enjoyable listen.

However, it is not entirely devoted to braggadocio and maximum opulence. In “New Day” Jay and Kanye show their reflective sides, contemplating their roles as fathers to their unborn sons.

Under this guise they reveal some of their flaws and mistakes. West shows some acceptance in what his public image has become, “Just want him to be someone people like/Don’t want him to be hated, all the time judged/Don’t be like your daddy that would never budge.”

On the non-deluxe version, the finale is “Why I Love You.” In this track, Jay shows he has not completely ignored disparaging remarks from competitors and former associates.

Jay’s usual response to critics is shrugging them off, but without mentioning anyone by name he and Kanye show some outrage at the audacity of their naysayers.

The modern sound of the production is what makes “Watch the Throne“ special. The Neptunes, Pete Rock, Q-Tip formerly of A Tribe Called Quest and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan were all recruited to bring their talents to the project.

Jay and Kanye show reverence to their roots by sampling soul legends James Brown, Curtis Mayfield and Otis Redding.

The sound becomes futuristic on “Who Gon’ Stop Me,” arguably the climax of “Watch the Throne.” It samples dubstep DJ Flux Pavilion.

Kanye is not the first to mix the two genres, but he is the most notable artist to do it thus far. If Kanye did it, others are sure to follow.

Featured extensively is producer and engineer Mike Dean. He spent the majority of his career in Houston at Rap-A-Lot Records.

He has worked with most local rappers, but has emerged as one of West’s go-to guys on “Watch the Throne” and his previous solo album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”

The handling of the release was near-perfect. In this era, online bootlegging has declined music sales.

But Jay and Kanye prevented a leak as long as possible while simultaneously pressuring fans to purchase the album.

It was eventually available for free about two hours before the album’s official release, but usually retail versions of albums leak months to weeks before being legally available.

Jay and Kanye released “Watch the Throne”exclusively on iTunes at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 8. Physical copies and other digital retailers did not have access to it until three days later.

“Watch the Throne” shattered the iTunes Store’s record for the most albums sold in a one-week period with 292,000 downloads. They dethroned Coldplay, who sold 282,000 with their 2008 album “Viva La Vida Or Death and All His Friends.”

They did not invent this concept of exclusively partnering with iTunes prior to the in-store release, but given their success, expect other acts to mimic the blueprint.

The “Watch the Throne” Tour begins Oct. 29 in Atlanta. Jay and Kanye will make their visit to Houston on Dec. 5 for a performance at the Toyota Center.

1 Comment

  • Wonderful analysis of the album, I tend to agree with several of the finer points. When you mentioned the "why I love you lyrics" i thought about this website that i stumbled upon:

    As I personally try not to pick sides in rap battles [obvi i'm going to be for hova] I did find it interesting to know the background stories.

    Keep up the good work!

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