Ten Trends That Watch The Throne Could Kickstart
It's way too early to have a critical judgment on Watch The Throne; didn't you read the rules? But since Kanye West and Jay-Z's colossal collaboration plopped into the raging waters of Internet opinion early Monday morning, I've been watching for ripples. Here are ten new things that Watch The Throne might bring to music and the music industry in the near future.
Frank Ocean's Impending Superduperstardom
He's the number one reason human beings have said "He's in Odd Future?!" and he also has the first line on Watch The Throne, asking "Human beings in a mob/ What's a mob to a king?" on the dark, blasphemous "No Church In the Wild." That hook, which builds a pyramid with non-believers at the top, is in a lane of disenchanted soul that Ocean invented, or at least resurfaced; that "Wild" exists on the same album where he shows off his sweetness while reciting a laundry list of black heroes on "Made in America" is evidence of his range. Killer placement to show off his killer chops should serve as a springboard for Ocean, who passed whatever kingmakers' exams Kanye/Jay threw his way and will be one of the most coveted collaborators in music for the forseeable future. (It's endearing, then, that he sounds somewhat conflicted about his success.)
An Influx Of Corny BBM/Facebook/Twitter Statuses
"That shit cray" is destined to worm its way into the Internet lexicon; "Ball so hard ma'fuckas wanna find me" is probably going to be part of the loathed fratboy/athlete vernacular. And those two are both parts of just the hook on "Niggas in Paris." There's plenty more worth snipping, including both of Ocean's bits, the "Me and the RZA connect" line in "New Day," and Kanye's Pig Latin bars on "Who Gon Stop Me." The line that might not age all that gracefully? Jay's "I'm plankin' on a million" from "Gotta Have It," which is going to sound really weird to someone in 2014.
More Work For 88-Keys And Hit-Boy
Kanye and Jay are listed as the executive producers of this album, but West affiliates 88-Keys and Hit-Boy steal the show. "No Church in the Wild" belongs to old hand 88-Keys, best known for the fantastic farce that was the "Stay Up! (Viagra)" video, and it's got a couple of low, grinding loops that anchor its ferality. Hit-Boy, now part of Kanye's G.O.O.D. Music tribe (and, apparently, the Very Good Beats imprint underneath it), sets "Niggas in Paris" apart from everything else on the record with a demonic keyboard loop, a smart sample of Jay's hook, drums that alternate between keeping time and echoing in caves, and the best use of a snippet of dialogue from Blades of Glory music will ever see. And then there's a superb beat switch-up. It's unlikely that either of these guys turns into a superproducer, but if one or both ends up with an uptick in work similar to the career renaissance of Kanye mentor No I.D., it will be justified.
Albums Being Recorded In Studios, And Not By Email
After his first Throne spin, Maryland producer Arsonal tweeted that he was "done sending beats," explaining that it's "hard to vibe over email." While these inklings of a shift from pastiche projects to cohesive albums have been around for years, and the benefits of concerted studio effort were amply demonstrated by Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it's going to take mid-level producers and artists resolving to do that sort of work together to bring it about on a genre-spanning scale. There will always be the DJ Khaledified compilations and instrumental-hopping "freestyle" mixtapes, but rappers may well stalk The Throne by keeping circles tighter in the future.
Projects By Partners
Collaborative projects in rap aren't exactly foreign, but they've never been bigger. Watch The Throne and Eminem and Royce da 5'9"'s Hell: The Sequel are much splashier than, say, Nas and Damien Marley's slept-on Distant Relatives and Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame's Ferrari Boyz, out today, but they come at a high-water mark for cooperation in the genre. Without Google, a list of rumored collaborations that might get mixtape or album releases: Drake and Lil Wayne; Big Sean, Curren$y, and Wiz Khalifa; Cam'ron and Vado; J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar; the Wu-Tang Clan and D-Block. And that's before counting the material being churned out by Gucci and Waka with members of the Brick Squad. Now if only Pusha T could hook up with a like-minded rapper, or Big Boi could find a loopy wingman. Or something.