Somethings a brewin' in this wizard hat. Shhhh.
The fantastic piece you see above is what one can find if you rummage around a company's closet for a while, one of my supervisors found this fantastic letter press block art sitting and collecting dust in a closet. It's made up of (mostly) wooden letter press blocks and can still be removed if shaken. Needless to say we all want to take this bad boy home but will be hopefully displaying it in our office to showcase part of the history of the print industry.
At first I was extremely skeptical about Kanye West and Jay-Z working together on a full album, I thought it was going to be a total brag-fest sprinkled with gold flakes, Maybachs and Louis Vuitton but was I wrong? I for one never thought "Amazing! Two of the greats together in one album... perfect!", it was more like a feeling of distance with uppity high fashion Hip-Hop that I couldn't relate to at all especially with the weird (high) iTunes store prices. I'm a fan of both Kanye and Jay but feel they are in two totally different mental spaces sometimes, Jay seems to be close to the street yet very far in content and Kanye paints great pictures with his lyrics albeit high in snobiety. After the millions of damning and praising this album got on Twitter, I had to start to ignore it all so I can make my own mind up. Now that I've given the album a few plays, this is what I think... First off, hype like this album has received never plays as planned into the actual outcome of what is heard, so try to go in listening with a open mind and not a preconceived notion of it being the next coming of God... because it just isn't and that's my personal opinion. The album is a good one but in no way the best that I would've thought they could come up with and I reference this to their last couple of albums. It seemed like highly successful artists having fun and being "Comfortably Numb" in the process just because they can, and while it still sounds good it also oozes out a feeling of artistic contentment. Maybe that was exactly what they were going for... just a couple of friends making music because they like it and that might be ok if it wasn't Kanye West and Jay-Z, but with a title like 'Watch The Throne' and the amount of Hip-Hop notoriety at stake it just felt weird sometimes. I enjoyed it don't get me wrong, but it does not live up to the hype of "Album of the year" that some blogs say or what a lot of f(st)ans keep screaming.
There are good standouts in WTT like "Niggas In Paris", "Gotta Have It", "Welcome To The Jungle", "Murder To Excellence", "Primetime", but out of a 16 track album from Hip-Hop greats like this it seems to make it fall short of their usual greatness. "Lift Off" should have been a Beyonce track featuring 'Ye and Jay, she totally took over that song and is mildly annoying. Frank Oceans inclusion in this album was welcoming to say the most, he did a good job overall especially in "No Church For The Wild" which the beat reminds me of a fighting sequence in "Big Trouble In Little China" haha. I have never liked H•A•M and don't see the big deal with Otis (even with the classic feel to it), so those fall off the radar for me. Everything else is either good or ok due to beat and execution in lyrics, wish it was more polished or deeper in thought. In conclusion, this album does exemplify who Kanye and Jay-Z are which is over the top high-life emcees yet falls a tad off their usual genius final product. It is worth a listen for sure, maybe a purchase if you're that big of a fan but for everyone else... not sure.
Oh and that cover... yeaaaaaah.
Alright something's going on and even tho I benefit from it, I believe it hurts the music industry... Hip-Hop specifically. I have always felt that this genre has non-stop releases from the same artist and sometimes you barely have time to sit and appreciate what has been released already. Don't get me wrong, I love free music and those emails I get daily but sometimes you have to do a double take to see if the email is from that same person who sent something a few days ago. I understand the whole concept of staying in the loop and constant in the public eye amongst sites and peers, but if your going to be releasing tracks in such frequency why not just make an album/EP/mixtape out of it already? I personally think that artist would look more like they have their craft and presentation together, and not just someone that knows how to upload to hulkshare/mediafire or anything else the kids are using nowadays. Constant rotation is harder to come by and artists aren't necessarily making memorable music that stays with you after you listen to it, there are some yes... but few. Which was the last album you bought that stood out amongst the ones you currently listened to and no matter what keep going back? Mine is Radiohead's 'In Rainbows' I don't know if it's because they spread their album releases out a good time, or it's the precious appreciation I have for them not dousing me with tracks here and there until they can come out with an album. Yes comparing Radiohead to indie Hip-Hop artists isn't really fair but it relates in the sense that good music needs to be appreciated and if the artists believe that much in their skill as they say, they will compile the best and bring it forth... not one by one day, week after week but in a complete cohesive bundle of musical love. Also cover art... VERY important as I think it adds or takes away from the "vision" you all are trying to represent, a little more effort or actually paying someone to do it might just be worth it folks.
Our Canadian brother The Other Guy has release a 3 tee drop keeping it fun and looking good. There are a few labels dropping good tees and this is a series that I will soon be picking up! I suggest you get yours as well.