‘I Guess’ is Kathy Iandoli’s battle cry of #shruglife. It’s everything that impresses us and unimpresses us—which could be one in the same given the day.
I was on a flight to Los Angeles when Watch The Throne was released. If I can remember correctly, if you prepaid for the album on iTunes, it miraculously landed in your phone upon release. I was on a Virgin America flight and losing my fucking mind, replaying the album for the duration of my 5-hour flight and every moment in L.A. thereafter. Both JAY and Kanye kept this project under strict lock and key, delivering hard copies of everything during the recording process to prevent leaks. The irony is that I had already heard the album before it released, as I was one of the few lucky ones to be seated in New York City’s Hayden Planetarium alongside Beyoncé and Gayle King to celebrate this magical moment. But, the power of that project eclipsed that media event, making it required listening over and over and over. JAY and Kanye were a band of brothers, a yin and yang who sounded perfect together. This was in 2011, back when we all had a little more faith in Kanye West than we do now. That being said, do we want him back alongside JAY-Z to bring us a sequel?
We’ve witnessed the decline of Yeezy over the last few years, which has included his make ups to breakups with Hov. It’s a situation that has gone from sad to vile to brotherly to WTFness, and to date, none of it has resulted in any music. WTT2 felt like a bargaining chip when it was first teased in September in the midst of Kanye rambling about all of the albums to come over Twitter.
This past week, Meek Mill dropped his comeback project Championships, and on the track “What’s Free,” a cameo verse from JAY-Z sent the whole industry into a tailspin. The lyrics were decoded and this set of bars were highlighted in particular:
No red hat, don’t Michael and Prince me and Ye
They separate you when you got Michael and Prince’s DNA, uh
I ain’t one of these house niggas you bought
My house like a resort, my house bigger than yours
My spou- (C’mon, man)
My route better, of course
At first listen, everyone thought it was a Kanye diss. Then, JAY-Z took to Twitter to clarify that it wasn’t.
Kanye, in turn replies with this:
Well, it’s ugh to me.
Watch The Throne 2 sounds like the puppy a couple adopts on the verge of a breakup to keep the relationship going. It’s that splash of water you add to your liquid soap to stretch it before you head over to Target. It’s the napkin you find in your pocket out of pure luck because the public restroom has no toilet paper. It’s breaking that last piece of gum in half after your friend sees you whipping out the package and asks for a piece, so you begrudgingly have to share.
I could do this all day.
The point is, Watch The Throne 2 feels like more of a necessity than a luxury. And for that reason, it will ultimately suck. JAY-Z’s rhymes won’t suck (we know this), especially when he managed to drop the verse of the year on someone else’s damn album right before 2018 buzzer, and hey, Kanye might even return to form with his tattered MAGA hat and say something profound. Who knows? But, we’re already witnessing this disjointed friendship between two hip hop icons play out on social media and everywhere else, and so a musical project will sound like they’re rapping in two completely different rooms. Do we really need that? Will that really satisfy our voyeuristic need to peek into their lives? Weren’t we satisfied enough with Lemonade, 4:44, and every episode of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” over the last few years? Like, when will it stop? If we’re not sold that they’ve truly reconciled in private, then it will reflect on a sonic reconciliation in public. And that would be very, very sad. Not even the Hayden Planetarium could put those stars back in our eyes.
On the remix of “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” when Kanye asks, “What’s up with you and Jay, man? Are y’all okay, man?” and JAY-Z jumps in with, “Yep! I got it from here, Ye, damn!” hip hop’s entire heart skipped a beat. We were in the midst of this brotherly quarrel between Jay and Kanye, punctuated by some Coldplay hooks and revealed in detail on Kanye’s “Big Brother.” That remix gave us all a collective sigh, one that we won’t receive with Watch The Throne 2, because A) The characters involved have so drastically changed and B) Only one has changed for the better.
So, what’s free? That album might be since our attention span is fading faster than their chemistry.
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