Thursday, December 22, 2011

Watch the Throne - The Cool Black Review

Watch the Throne album cover

Let me say that it took me a while to even check out this album by rap superstars Jay-Z & Kanye West I WAS NOT crazy (cray?) about the first two released tracks.

Watch the Throne was originally envisioned as a five track ep and then Kanye announced in October 2010 that this was going to be a full album. After I heard those first two singles I thought this album may be a “cash grab” to capitalize on their superstar status and or some sort of vanity project.

Following Kanye's announcement via his Twitter account, "H•A•M" was officially released as a digital download on January 11, 2011. On July 20, 2011 "OTIS" was premiered on Funkmaster Flex's Hot 97 radio show and subsequently leaked to the Internet.

As I stated, I wasn’t feeling EITHER of those tracks."H•A•M" was just "W•A•M" and the “W” stands for “Wack”. The only good thing about the song was the hook.

I thought their next single “OTIS” was gotdamn ridiculous when I first heard it. I could not hear what the heck Jay-Z & Kanye were saying over the overpowering Otis Redding vocals. The Otis Redding vocals are still overpowering, but I've gotten used to them & can now decipher what they are rapping about.

Ok that was the first tracks released, but when I finally listened to the album my first impressions were to quote a friend of mine, "not to be funny" this is more of a Kanye West album featuring Jay-Z. Whether by intent or design, Kanye seems to outshine Jay on every song.  Maybe Jay-Z is at the point in his career where he CAN just step back. Let’s also be clear that Kanye’s rap skills have finally arrived. I think what made My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy such a masterpiece (yeah I thought it was masterpiece) was that his rap skills have vastly improved. Dude is like a real MC now.

There are great songs like "No Church in the Wild" (featuring Frank Ocean), That's My Bitch and Made it in America (again featuring Frank Ocean), but my favorite tracks on the album are the back to back tracks "Lift Off" (featuring Beyoncé) produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean, with additional production by Q-Tip, Pharrell and Don Jazzy and the track "Niggas in Paris" produced by Hit-Boy, Kanye West, Mike Dean and Anthony Kilhoffer.

Those two songs work seamless together and alone. Perfect for an album. The Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks while may be Deluxe...were no Bonus, including the aforementioned "H•A•M" which still didn't grow on me, but has become tolerable. As for the rest of the album even the tracks that don’t work by themselves work in the complete album.

Having said that, this whole album is HOT! Even though I deplore it, I can admit when I’m wrong. I mean it happens so rarely that it takes me by surprise. LOL.

Below is which of the individual tracks I thought were HOT

1. "No Church in the Wild" (featuring Frank Ocean) HOT
2. "Lift Off" (featuring Beyoncé) HOT
3. "Niggas in Paris" HOT
4. "Otis" (featuring Otis Redding)  HOT
5. "Gotta Have It" warm
6. "New Day"
7. "That’s My Bitch" HOT
8. "Welcome to the Jungle"
9. "Who Gon Stop Me"
10. "Murder to Excellence" HOT
11. "Made in America" (featuring Frank Ocean) HOT
12. "Why I Love You" (featuring Mr Hudson) warm

Deluxe Edition Bonus tracks

13. "Illest Motherfucker Alive"
14. "H•A•M"
15. "Primetime"
16. "The Joy" (featuring Curtis Mayfield)


Below is a look at some of the inner workings captured during the Watch the Throne recording sessions of Jay-Z and Kanye West.

Watch the Throne Session Photos

Check out the first video from Watch the Throne, OTIS , a video that more than likely got me to like the song more and video that looks like a whole bunch of fun

Check out an excellent short film based on "No Church in the Wild" (featuring Frank Ocean) at our parent blog ‘Nother Brother Entertainment blog here

Read about the video for Niggas in Paris on the ‘Nother Brother Entertainment Facebook page here

Related posts-

For ALL of our posts about Watch the Throne click here

Read Jay-Z and Kanye-A Timeline of Partnership here

For ALL blog posts about Jay-Z click here

For ALL blog posts about Kanye West click here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reel Talk: Allow It: The 2012 Black Reel Awards Nominations

Reel Talk: Allow It: The 2012 Black Reel Awards Nominations: The 2012 Black Reel Awards looks to be the answer to the mainstream awards snubbing many of the wonderful black movies and performances fro...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Jay-Z Holding New Fundraisers at Carnegie Hall

Jay-Z to raise money, perform at Carnegie Hall

By Mesfin Fekadu -Associated Press / December 9, 2011

NEW YORK—Jay-Z (pictured left) didn't graduate from high school, but he's encouraging others to value their education.

The rapper announced Thursday that he will perform two shows at New York's Carnegie Hall in February to benefit the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation and the United Way of New York City.

"Education is super important," Jay-Z said. "I don't have a high school diploma or a college diploma, but still for me to articulate, I had to have some form of schooling to articulate my thoughts."

The concerts will take place on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7. Tickets in the private sale will range from $500 to $2500.

The press conference announced Jay-Z as the first solo hip-hop artist to play at the famed venue, though Wylcef Jean performed there in 2001 with Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton and Whitney Houston.

"I feel like they bent the rules so that it could make sense for me right now, but I'll take it," Jay-Z said with a laugh.

Jay-Z says performing at Carnegie Hall is a big deal for hip-hop, and he's happy to bring the genre to greater heights.

"Any time that I get a chance to expand and broaden the reach of hip-hop is a great thing for me on a personal level," he said.

The Brooklyn-born performer said he's excited to influence his community in ways outside of music. He says going back to the Marcy Projects complex where he grew up remains a moving experience.

He says he got the same feeling when he recently went to Kanye West's old home in the South Side of Chicago.

"The inspiration and how happy the people were, it just makes you feel really good," he said.



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Monday, December 5, 2011

808s & Heartbreak - A quick review

Three years later I finally listened to 808s & Heartbreak. I already bought two singles from the album, but not the whole.

808s & Heartbreak is the fourth studio album by American hip hop artist Kanye West, released November 24, 2008 on Roc-A-Fella Records in the United States. Recording sessions for the album took place at Glenwood Studios in Burbank, California and Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii during September to October 2008. It was primarily produced by West, No I.D., and Jeff Bhasker. Conceived in the wake of multiple events that affected and distressed him during the previous year, 808s & Heartbreak marked a major musical departure for Kanye West from his previous work, lyrically, vocally, and production-wise.

Classified by West as a pop album, 808s & Heartbreak incorporates elements of synthpop, electronica, R&B, and electropop, while its tracks are primarily sung rather than rapped by West and contain lyrical themes such as love, loneliness, and heartache. The album also contains extensive use of the Auto-Tune voice processor and the Roland TR-808 drum machine, which was utilized and manipulated by West to produce a distorted, electronic sound. Approaching the album's production in a minimalist fashion, West intended to contravene the typical sound of hip hop beat and instead evoke a presence of tribal drums.
- Wikipedia   
 My thoughts on '808s' in an Internet post. December 3, 2011

#np Finally played #Kanye's '808 & HEARTBREAK' all the way through and while I like a lot of things about it, I can see where a lot has to "grow on you".

The main thing I walked away with from this album was that IT IS way experimental and will make GREAT fodder for DJ remixes and media FILM & TV scores.
Kanye was and always be a genius producer and this album is no different!

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