Fri 8 Jul 2011
Mikey: Last night… as you probably heard by now… Jay-Z hosted a super private listening session for Watch The Throne. While we were noticeably absent from the affair, a gang of our colleagues were in attendance at the Mercer hotel. Unsurprisingly, just about everyone had positive things to say about the project and the mini reviews turned out great and were very insightful. Haha, but I can’t help in just recapping what shorty from my office said about the album two weeks ago, “Watch Throne is awesome. It sounds like an older Kanye album, with a lot of samples but with crazy guest verses from Jay.”
I haven’t heard it yet, but I trust in these Internet tastemakers.
Check out reviews from VIBE, AllHipHop, GQ, RollingStone, EW, BET, MTV after the jump…
VIBE: The expectations for this album are insane. And if Jay and Ye delivered the Holy Trinity of rap records people would still find flaws. But they do this for the culture and the record isn’t done yet. What I will say is I heard some great material last night. And goodnight.
AllHipHop: Overall, Watch The Throne is one of the most interesting pieces of Hip-Hop I’ve heard in a long time. Many people asked is it “classic” or is it “dope as expected.” I believe, to properly enjoy the album, they are going to need to shed expectations and erase what they know. I already can see there will be a segment of the population that simple will not “get” this album. But, that is the beauty of Watch The Throne. Everybody won’t love it and others will swear by it. It will be the topic of debates and hate. Through it all, its very cool to see Hip-Hop artist evolving creatively. Fearlessly.
MTV: On another particularly interesting song, Jay-Z and Kanye deliver verses directed to their hypothetical unborn sons. (Note: Jay-Z’s press representative asked that lyrics from songs not be quoted.) The Brooklyn MC recalled that Yeezy first recited his verse to him at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “I told him I wasn’t going to get on it,” Jay-Z told MTV News of the song, adding that he thought Kanye’s verse, running down his myriad past mistakes, is one of his best ever. “The honesty of it, it’s just really cool.”
Billboard: Although many guests at last night’s listening session had been given the impression that they would be able to live-tweet the event and their reaction to the album, those in attendance were told not to use Twitter during the session and to avoid quoting direct lyrics in their reviews, as songs and presumably verses could still change. Guests were encouraged to take notes, however, and were offered RocNation notepads and pens. The session was briefly interrupted when one media rep was removed from the room shortly after the session began for live tweeting his reaction to the songs being played.
The songs were dramatic and boastful, with Jay-Z often taking the lead lyrically, and the collection showcased the differences between the two artists – Jay-Z, the technical marksman, and Kanye, the emotive chest beater. Jay-Z said the two began recording the album last year in England and had recorded in Australia while Jay-Z was on tour, as well as in New York, Paris, and Los Angeles, often in hotel rooms. At least one of the songs played was recorded at New York’s Tribeca Grand.
GQ: During the conversation, Jay addressed his and many fans’ disappointment with the first single, “H.A.M.,” which was not played and may not make the final cut. He mentioned that this iteration of the album was the third, after two scrapped rounds of songwriting and recording, blaming ambition and expectation for the false starts. He also said that the sessions were often bizarre and star-packed, at one point recalling one night that featured the celebrated Givenchy designer Riccardo Tischi (who also crafted Watch The Throne’s gold-embossed cover), British women’s wear star (and Kanye obsession) Phoebe Philo, and Russell Crowe. Sounds like a fun room.
BET: In a room full of journalists, two pre-order contest winners, RocNation employees, and champagne, Jay-Z is extremely comfortable. Being used to the routine, he knows how to turn around an awkward situation, like when a journalist is removed from the room for tweeting too many details (“let’s not act like we all didn’t see that just happen,” he jokes). And he certainly isn’t fazed by questions about the perceived difficulties of working with Kanye (Jay says Kanye’s motive always comes from a good place). But, with a career that spans 15 years and 11 albums, Jay can afford to be relaxed.
EW: “Why don’t you sit on the floor,” Jay-Z, clad in a Yankees cap, white v-neck tee, and matching shell-toe Adidas, asked the few people lingering around the entrance to his Mercer Hotel suite in Manhattan’s Soho last night. “We can make it like camp.” The revered rhymer invited friends and a select few journalists for an early listen of Watch the Throne, his long-awaited full-length collaboration with Kanye West.
RS: Exuding casual cool in jeans, a white t-shirt and a backward Yankees cap, Jay-Z hunched over a black MacBook connected to massive speakers. What we were about to hear was a work in progress, he explained. Most of the songs don’t have confirmed titles, and all lyrics and track sequencing are still subject to change substantially before the album’s release date (another detail that has yet to be finalized).