Tag Archives: Jay Z

Jay Z and Kanye West ‘Watch the Throne’ – Review

26 Aug

Jay Z and Kanye West are unquestionably the two biggest stars in rap, and possibly the best as well. So surely a collaboration album couldn’t fail? Well in many respects ‘Watch the Throne’ doesn’t fail; It’s a massive, skyscraper sized, gold-plated, stadium ready record, featuring the most expensive samples money can buy and guest appearances from the likes of Beyonce, La Roux and Frank Ocean. Needless to say it shifted nearly a million units in its first week alone.  Both Jay and Kanye’s last solo albums were their biggest and most over the top to date and, in certain respects, this album is even more ambitious and dramatic. So If that’s what you were expecting then ‘Watch the Throne’ is a roaring success, but if you were after something more substantial or exciting then you may well be disappointed.

Whilst ‘Watch the Throne’ is somehow even bigger than ‘The Blueprint III’ or ‘Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy’ it’s more streamlined and less chaotic. In fact it arrives in what can only be described as an understated manner. Opening track ‘No Church in the Wild’ is a slow burner, dominated by a Frank Ocean chorus and a couple of verses from Jay. When Kanye steps in, quite late in the day, he steals the show with a line about how doing cocaine off the body of a black woman makes her look like a zebra. Classic Kanye no doubt, but it’s too little too late to save this song. Beyonce adds a bit of energy to track two, ‘Lift Off’, but for some reason the track fails to “lift off” in truly spectacular fashion. It’s only on first single ‘Otis’ that things really get going. This is a chooooon in which both Jay and Kanye manage to convince you they are the coolest men in the universe whilst unleashing some funny one liners that prove they still know how to have some fun. The antics get wilder on ‘Niggas In Paris’, which is built around a quote from the Will Farrell comedy ‘Blades of Glory’.

However, not all of the album is as ‘chillaxed’, and as it progresses the mood becomes more serious, with themes of race, nationality, wealth and politics becoming central to the conversation. ‘Made It In America’ works in this respect, but ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and ‘Murder to Excellence’ are considerably less successful. ‘That’s My Bitch’ is a strangely addictive song but it’s strikingly similar to one of the hip hop parodies from Chris Liley’s ‘Angry Boys’ show. The sexist chorus is a just a bit embarrassing, the beat a bit too clinched, and the sample has been used countless times. It’s just far too predictable to work. The album closer ‘Why I Love You’ is also a bit underwhelming – the duo are at their best when they are trading verses, but their solo raps are a bit unmemorable and a bit too familiar a lot of the time.

Part of the appeal of Kanye’s excellent ‘Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy’ was hearing him knock down some of the public perceptions. He revealed a human side that hadn’t been seen before, and his confessionals were fascinating. ‘Watch My Throne’ just reinforces these perceptions; it’s the stereotypical big budget hip hop album and for the most part it’s pretty joyless and arrogant. In fact, I like it when Jay and Kanye cut loose, as on ‘Otis’, but far too often they are trying to get away with meaningless rhymes or straining to be serious, as on ‘Murder to Excellence’. I’m left feeling a bit confused as to what they were trying to achieve – was this meant to be a serious and innovative rap album or was it meant to simply be a chance for Kanye and Jay to let off some steam and have fun? It sounds like they weren’t sure either which has resulted in an inconsistent, incohesive, clichéd and sample heavy mess. From time to time they show why they are the best rappers (and why Kanye is the best hip hop producer) but they do it far too little to make this the classic album it wants to be.

5.5/10

The Prodigy remix Jay Z

16 Nov

The Prodigy have just unveiled a remix of ’99 Problems’ that they have made for Jay Z, although there is no news when it’s being officially released. I like it and you can make up your own mind by listening to it below.

100 Best Singles of the Decade

17 Dec

Below is a list of my favourite singles released in the last 10 years. It was a difficult list to compile as I wanted to represent all the genres I listen to and tried to include a variety of artists and styles. I’ve kept the number of singles per artist to a bare minimum as it was possible Arctic Monkeys or The Strokes could have made up the top 100 by themselves! Coming soon will be my albums of the decade, and album and singles of 2009.

Click on song to hear

100. Hide and Seek – Imogen Heap

99. Ignition Remix – R Kelly

98.Danger! – Electric Six

97. Teenage Dirtbag – Wheetus

96. Life Is A Song – Patrick Park

95. Love Steals Us From Lonliness – Idlewild

94. Standing in the way of control – The gossip

93. Crimewave – Crystal Castles

92. Shelia – Jamie T

91. Milkshake – Kelis

90. Twilight – Elliot Smith

89. Muzzle of Bees – Wilco

88. The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

87. I Believe in a Thing Called Love – The Darkness

86. Shine – Take That

85. Funny Little Frog – Belle and Sebastian

84. Us – Regina Specktor

83. Off The Record – My Morning Jacket

82. Lets go Surfing – The Drums

81. Cannonball – Damien Rice

80. First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes

79. Fix up look sharp- Dizzie Rascal

78. That Boy That Girl – Hadouken

77. Stronger – Kanye West

76. Over and Over – Hot chip

75. LDN – Lilly Allen

74. An Honest Mistake – The Bravery

73. California – Phantom Planet

72. Love Machine – Girls Aloud

71. Lust For Life – Girls

70. Fluorescent Adolescent – Arctic Monkeys

69. Two Doors Down – Mystery Jets

68. Molly’s Chambers – Kings of Leon

67. Buck Rodgers – Feeder

66. Umbrella – Rihanna

65. Forever Lost – The Magic Numbers

64. Nude – Radiohead

63. My Doorbell – White Stripes

62. Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

61. Young Folks – Peter Bjorn and John

60. Ms Jackson – Outkast

59. Burn – Usher

58. The First of the gang to die – Morrissey

57. Knights of cydonia – Muse

56. Hoppipolla – Sigur Ros

55. Somewhere only We Know – Keane

54. Kissing The Lipless – The Shins

53. Jesus Of Suburbia – Green day

52. GrooveJet – Spiller

51. Kids – MGMT

50. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes

49. Clint Eastwood – Gorrilaz

48. Idioteque – Radiohead

47. Valerie – The Zutons

46. Rock Your Body – Justin Timberlake

45. By The Way – Red Hot Chili Peppers

44. Trains To Brazil – Guilemots

43. Apply Some Pressure – Maximo Park

42. Golden Touch – Razorlight

41. Can’t Get You Out Of My Head – Kylie Minouge

40. All my friends – Lcd soundsystem

39. Yellow – Coldplay

38. Time for Heroes – The Libertines

37. 99 Problems – Jay Z

36. Mansard Roof – Vampire Weekend

35. Time is Running Out – Muse

34. Someday – The Strokes

33. Pull Shapes – The Pippettes

32. Hounds of Love – The Futureheads

31. Once and Never Again – The Long Blondes

30. Digital Love – Daft Punk

29. Thou shalt always kill – Dan Le sac and Scrobius pip

28. Loose Yourself – Eminem

27. Daddy’s Gone – Glasvegas

26. Atlantis to Interzone – Klaxons

25. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes

24. Diamonds from Sierra Leone – Kanye West

23. Dance – Justice

22. Sea Within a Sea – The Horrors

21. Dry Your Eyes – The Streets

20. So Here We Are – Bloc Party

19. Ch Ch Check It Out – Beastie Boys

18. Hate To Say I Told You So – The Hives

17. Mr Brightside – The Killers

16. Paper Planes – MIA

15. Hurt – Johnny Cash

14. Dreamin Of You – The Coral

13. Run – Snow Patrol

12. All These Things that I’ve done – The Killers

11. Rock my World – Michael Jackson

10. Crazy In Love – Beyonce

9. Time to pretend – MGMT

8. Tunnels – The Arcade Fire

7. Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys

6. Daft Punk Is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem

5. Hey Ya – Outkast

4. Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand

3. Can’t Stand Me Now – The Libertines

2. Hope There’s Someone – Anthony And The Johnsons

1. The Modern Age  – The Strokes

Mr Hudson ‘Straight No Chaser’ – Review

21 Oct

Mr Hudson and The Library’s debut album passed the world by without making any major impact. I remember really liking the cover, I remember listening to it once and being as impressed as I was repulsed by certain garish aspects of it. The level of musicianship was high, certain songs were catchy but the lyrics were cringe worthy at times and his singing voice was off putting if brilliantly English. I didn’t listen to it again.

So when I heard that Kanye West had adopted Mr Hudson as a protege, I was extremely surprised. This was more than random, it was absolutely bizarre. What did Kanye West see in this slightly out there, slightly old fashioned indie act from England? Obviously he saw something because Mr H has now become part of Kanye’s hip hop elite, working with the likes of Jay Z, Kid Cudi and Kanye himself. Now, at last, we can hear his much anticipated second album ‘Straight No Chaser’.

Obviously much has changed from last time round – most noticeably The Library have disappeared leaving Mr Hudson out front on his own – and this is very much a solo album. The natural sounds of the debut have also been replaced by more hip hop beats, vocoders and 80’s synths making this a much more contemporary album than ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’. It fits in quite snuggly with the more laid back trend of hip hop in the last two years heading in a similar direction to Kanye’s own ‘808 and Heartbreak’, with less satisfying results. Mr Hudson was going for a mass market pop album and for the most part he succeeds.

First single ‘Supernova’ is one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard all year, even if it doesn’t quite sound as epic as the title suggests it should. New single ‘White Lies’ is another very enjoyable pop song that may have you singing along, as will ‘Knew We Were Trouble’, easily the best thing on here. And when Mr Hudson gets the formula right, as he does on these songs, this can be a very enjoyable, very English modern pop album. unfortunately there are far too many moments when the formula goes stale, when he repeats himself such as on the title track or the insipid ‘Instant Mesanger’. All the songs sound essentially the same, which is a shame after the last album’s eclectic nature. The best songs are the ones Kanye had a direct role in, and Kid Cudi also brings some class to ‘Everything is Broken’; its moments like this when you think Mr Hudson is worthy of all the attention he has received.

‘Straight No Chaser’ is a very satisfactory and enjoyable pop record, featuring some brilliantly catchy songs. Mr Hudson combines some English wit and humour with very American beats to good effect. However It is very hit and miss and I’m not sure if many songs will stand repeat listens. You can guarantee that many of these songs will be played on the radio for months to come, so if you buy this album expecting familiar, fun songs you will have a good time – if you expect anything deeper, in the mould of his last record, you may be disappointed.

6/10