Rappers / entrepreneurs Kanye West and Jay-Z were all smiles at the exclusive listening event for the highly-anticipated release of their album, Watch The Throne (Available August 8th). The event was held at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History on Monday, August 1 in NYC.
Concrete Loop was in the house for the listening session and let’s just say it was very space aged. They confiscated all phones and cameras at the door and I spotted a couple of celebrities getting heated when they had to give theirs up too. The whole listening event was on another level and before it actually started, Kanye greeted the invited guests with smiles and hugs and seemed to be in a chipper mode. He looked excited about the whole experience and it was the happiest I’ve seen him in a minute. After awhile, we peeped Beyonce and Jay-Z stroll in with security (Julius of course) to get their seats. Following them, were singers Kelly Rowland and Solange Knowles. A lot of celebs were seated randomly inside the listening including: Q-Tip (who is featured on the album), Nas, Idris Elba, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Steve Stoute, Busta Rhymes, Teyana Taylor, DJ D-Nice and designer Tory Burch (more photos below).
After some confusion with seating, the lights started to dim and the effects started. For those of you who have never been to a planetarium, here is a little description of the set up. We were sitting in a dome shaped room and the ceiling was pretty much a movie theater screen. Our chairs were positioned so we could look up and I believe some of them even reclined but ours didn’t. LOL. Big speakers were in the middle of the room and there were also some aligned on the walls (for maximum listening pleasure). When the music started, the ceiling started showcasing stars, planets, moons, meteors and more. As the album played, each scene changed and I’m guessing Kanye was very hands on with this, because you can tell his made sure that the music matched the scenes we were observing. After the listening/viewing (keep reading below to hear my thoughts on each song), Jay-Z briefly spoke to the crowd as Kanye sat on the side smiling from ear to ear. Jay said it took them “about 9 months to complete the album” and it was a “process of three incarnations/stages”. They had to bring the musicality down a little more so it could be more cohesive. He thanked everyone and then they proceeded to usher people out for the second listening/viewing session.
TRACK BY TRACK NOTES/ OVERALL VIBE OF ‘WATCH THE THRONE’
Here are some of the notes and vibes I got from the songs. It was really dark in there so I wasn’t able to take that many notes, but this still gives you an idea of how dope the tracks were (to me at least).
1. “No Church in the Wild” (featuring Frank Ocean)
4/5 – Frank Ocean comes in on the song asking “…What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a god? What’s a god to a nonbeliever?” Kanye & Jay gives us 808s & Heartbreaks vibes on the track and it is actually a good starting point.
2. “Lift Off” (featuring Beyoncé)
4/5 – It was originally announced that Bruno Mars was going to be on the track, but I didn’t hear him. Only Beyonce was heard belting out “We gonna take it to the moon/ We gonna take it to the stars/ How many people you know take it this far?” Pretty dope track.
3. “Niggas in Paris”
5/5!!!!!! Best beat on the album. Everyone was getting out of their seats and jamming. It gave me a down south vibe. They were straight stunting on the song and both Kanye & Jay killed their verses. I wanted them to replay it.
4. “Otis” (featuring Otis Redding)
3/5 Since this song is already out, you can listen here. However, while this was playing I noticed that Beyonce & Jay-Z were really feeling it. They were smiling all over the place.
5. “Gotta Have It”
5/5 – This Nepturnes produced beat was also another crazy one. Kanye plays on the internet culture because I heard a couple of LOLs mentions on the track. Jay-Z goes in on the high price of being famous.
6. “New Day”
5/5 This song samples Nina Simone’s “Feelin’ Good.” You can hear her voice “Birds flyin’ high, you know how I feel” and Kanye and Jay-Z get personal. Both speak to about or to their unborn children and it was actually thought provoking. Kanye even puts in a jab to Amber Rose saying, “Strip club, I learned the hard way that wasn’t where to find love.”
7. “That’s My Bitch”
4/5 The guy next to me said this song leaked because he heard it before but it was new to me. The visual effects during this time were planets exploding and then it eventually turned into the moon. Pretty dope. Didn’t write any lyric notes down.
8. “Welcome to the Jungle”
4/5 Swizz Beatz is very evident on this song. Guitars and a Jay-Z mention of Axel Rose (i’m guessing that was smart because of the song title). Definite banger though.
9. “Who’s Gon Stop Me”
4/5 All I remember is Kanye saying something about the Holocaust in the chorus and even though it was dark inside the planetarium, everyone started writing hard on their paper. I was like ut oh, this is gonna turn into something if he isn’t careful. The song was pretty dope, but I think people are going to make a big heap about his ‘Holocaust’ mentioning.
10. “Murder to Excellence”
4/5 Another deep song on the album. Kanye speaks about the murder count in Chicago comparing it to the deaths of soldiers in Iraq. Jay-Z sheds light on the black on black crime / murder in an inspirational way.
11. “Made in America” (featuring Frank Ocean)
5/5 Frank Ocean’s chorus on this song was pretty dope. He sang “Sweet King Martin / Sweet Queen Coretta / Sweet Brother Malcolm / Sweet Queen Betty / Sweet Mother Mary / Sweet Father Joseph / Sweet Jesus / We made it in America / Sweet Baby Jesus / Oh sweet baby Jesus / We made it in America / Sweet baby Jesus / Oh sweet baby Jesus / We made it in America” Kanye payed homage to his mother, and Jay-Z pledged allegiance to his grandma. Another inspirational song on both Jay and Kanye’s end. This song kind of reminded me of off the “Graduation’ album. Kanye were just speaking his growth in the industry making beats and songs for people. He also compared him using his beats as ‘getting high off his own supply’. All I can remember is the Frank Ocean chorus right now. It’s stuck in my head.
12. “Why I Love You” (featuring Mr Hudson)
OVERALL, IT’S A MUST BUY!! MAKE SURE YOU SUPPORT ON AUGUST 8TH. ( PRE-ORDER HERE ).
Overall, the album was entertaining, educational, inspirational and the beats went hard. You can tell the older the two get, the more reflective they are becoming as evident in many of the songs on the upcoming release. Not to mention, they even had little dope interludes in between each song (reminiscent of Frank Ocean’s infamous mixtape) and the hip-hop heads will dig some of the mixing and samples as well. I’m excited to hear it in full again.