It’s been a fair while since we last had an update from FKOF JPN contributor fameONE. Luckily for us, and especially all you hip-hop heads out there, Brandon’s latest piece is a fascinating insight into Kanye West’s history and his latest venture with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne…
In the blogosphere of album reviews and hip-hop commentary there isn’t much that hasn’t been said about kanYe West. Some of it is absolutely hilarious when people take shots at his ego or eccentricity. Often, the criticism is lost amongst the truth that his albums are fantastically produced. In other words; it really is that good. From what I’ve gathered in the decade of following kanYe West, the focus on his work is always pointed in the wrong direction. The things that people comment on are often the nuances of his life, variations from album to album or his relationships with rich, famous and powerful people. What I have also noticed is that both fans and naysayers alike rarely point out his absurd progression.
The transition from producer to emcee is well chronicled and recognized. When it comes to his production, it is often noted that “The College Dropout“, his first LP was the best that he’s ever released with “Late Registration“, his sophomore debut, being the close second. “Graduation” received criticism as his fame and seemingly massive ego began to grow. When “808s & Heartbreak” was released to the world, it was during a rather turbulent time in the public eye. Still, I’ll speak directly to the critics here by saying, “it’s still better than anything you could ever release.” As abstract and off the wall as the album was at the time, it contained all of the elements that has made music what it is over the past 40 years. And to back up that claim, I challenge you to listen to the album and not pick up on the influences of different genres.
After the Taylor Swift controversy, scandals within his love life and more ridiculous remarks from the mouth of the artist formally known as Mr. West, the world was graced with the release of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy“, which should have put the entire industry in its place. From beginning to end, the album painted an eerie picture of fame, fortune, self-indulgence, arrogance and how it can affect a man. Let’s just say that it was brilliant to be on the safe side. And with that release, it became clear to me that kanYe West has transcended expectations beyond belief while everyone else was so focused on kanYe West the man instead of kanYe West the musician. You may despise him for what you believe him to be, despite the blogosphere knowing nothing about him personally other than viral media, but to ignore his contribution to music would be a crime to music itself.
He consistently drops albums that are better than the previous, moving in a different direction each time. On second thought, he’s moving in one direction; up.
Watch the Throne, the highly anticipated release with his mentor and proclaimed ‘big brother,’ Jay-Z was on the minds of anyone who heard HAM, released earlier this year. For some, the news of the release fell on deaf ears. There has been talk of all kinds of star-studded collaborations over the past decade and there hasn’t been much of a delivery. In fact, what happened to the Juelz Santana and Lil’ Wayne project? Has anyone heard any news on the Lil’ Wayne and kanYe West project? Additionally, the last Jay-Z project with an eccentric figurehead in music was the well hyped and lackluster project with R. Kelly. Thankfully, Hova and Yeezy delivered a piece of music history that feels timeless.
What seems like an LP of two hip-hop heavyweights shamelessly celebrating their wealth and control over a cutthroat and critical music industry is actually an eerie look into the destructive forces of such success. This theme has been toyed with in the past, recent and distant, by other artists, but not with this amount of satire laced in the bars spat by both kanYe and Jay-Z. As lyricists, both excel in most tracks. With the almighty Hov, his lyrical domination is expected. Take your expectations and throw them out of the window because he, too, is progressing. His efforts in this project are on par with the Black Album. His little brother has also proved that he’s worthy of lyrical recognition as he’s finally finding a lyrical delivery that suits him and allows listeners to pick up on his wordplay.
The hype for the album was there, but it was subtle. In no way was the release of Watch the Throne overshadowed by anyone else in the industry, to include his big brother. Although this is a collaborative effort, the success of the project can easily be credited to the one who has made leaps and bounds in his music progression; kanYe West. The college dropout recovered from his wounds and woke up from his nightmare with an album the masses have yet to appreciate. If that isn’t progression, I don’t know what is.
If you have any thoughts on fameONE’s piece on Watch the Throne, or on anything else you’ve read – let us know. Have you heard WTT yet? What did you think? Let us know though the comments section below or get in touch via email, Twitter, Facebook or the FKOF TakesQuestions page!
Peace, love and respect.