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Aural Pleasure Review

Jay-Z and Kanye West: Watch the Throne

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Watch The Throne is easily the most anticipated rap release in 2011. The bad news: This isn't as impactful as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy or Reasonable Doubt. The good news: Any fear of a high-profile train wreck is dashed from the album's opening notes. Not only did 'Ye and Jay smack this shit out of the park, they did it in record time (over a few months last fall), in bizarre circumstances (recording mostly in hotel rooms) and with a few snags (the expected celestial creative differences). Dwelling on invidual tracks is moot. What you should know is, sonically, West is still plumbing last year's bombastic dark soul, while incorporating robotic, synth-heavy funk. He and Jay exchange verses the way Neo and Agent Smith exchange blows, but this pair is hitting on race, God, family, and general badassery. The guest spots are infrequent (Beyoncé on one cut, Odd Future's Frank Ocean on two others). The deluxe version includes four extra (and great) songs, including early single "H•A•M" and G.O.O.D. Friday's highlight "The Joy." But the standard package is a flawless, 46-minute ass-kicker. If you sleep on this record, you're wrong.

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