Let me first say, I like “Watch The Throne”. A LOT. I think mainly because I had the right expectations for it. I understood what it was and what it’s GOING to be. Here’s my take on it in a nutshell:
If you’re familiar with Jean-Michel Basquiat & Andy Warhol, then you’re familiar with the collaboration project they did together back in 84 or 85. Warhol, who at that point was older in age and his career was sort of suffering from that aspect and maybe some other things collaborated w/ Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Some say Warhol was a bit responsible for Basquiat’s commercial fame because of him giving a stamp of approval. (As Jay did w/ Ye throughout the Roca-fella saga) It was also well known that to all the artists on the scene at that time, Warhol was like a GOD so Basquait looking up to him and being enamored to work with him was no surprise to me. It also didn’t surprise me that Warhol took the opportunity (maybe even suggested it) to work with the best of that time period & looking back, one of the best to ever do it.
So… Warhol = Jay
Basquiat = Kanye
The collaboration brought two unique styles together and pushed a lot of barriers in my opinion. Warhol hadn’t put a brush to canvas since 1962 & it has been said that the two went back and forth a lot on opinions of the direction of the project. (Insert Kanye & Jay disagreeing of Tour ideas). Anyway, the public & the media absolutely RIPPED this project apart.
“The 16 results – all ‘Untitleds,’ of course – are large, bright, messy, full of private jokes and inconclusive”. The NY Times
Two of the greatest artists on the planet who have shaped a culture & given it life, didn’t fit into what was considered “Art” at the time. About 26 years later, two of the greatest artists on the planet (in a different light of course) who have shaped a culture & given it life don’t fit into what is considered “art” at the time. In this case, I’ve seen a lot of “This isn’t Hip-Hop” comments because of some of the music and subject matter. I think the art scene of the 80’s and Hip-Hop of now both let outsiders influence the cultures so much on what “it should look or sound like” that fans just don’t know what they want anymore. At some points there are too many options, and some points there aren’t enough but either way, most people are just never happy. I think this album was meant to ignite the culture in a way that you take home your own personal feeling from it. And most likely, it was done to say they could do it and do it pretty well. The Warhol/Basquait collaboration probably came together in the same fashion. I think both projects can and should (or should have) been appreciated at their current time for what they stood for. “Watch The Throne” above anything else, stood up against the “leak” system & the Warhol/Basquait collaboration sort of exuded “Art can be whatever you want it to be”.
The only problem that I have with this album is that I feel Jay is using Kanye the same way Warhol used Basquait to try and gain more relevance. This is all apart of the game though as Andy’s career was coming to an end and Basquait was at a crossroads in his, maybe if he makes a different decision we get to enjoy him for more years to come. I think Jay & Kanye’s careers may be mirroring these two artists right now, with Jay’s being close to dying. (who knows, was that harsh?) Regardless of the reasoning, I think we need more of these types of chances being taken to continue to advance our culture. Every attempt isn’t going to be a 5 for 5, (The painting titled “AMOCO” or the song “Welcome To The Jungle” as some examples) but at the end of the day we’ll be one step closer to where we could be.
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