Jay-Z & Kanye West’s Watch The Throne listening session in NYC | Photos x Track Breakdown

Last night at the Hayden Planetarium in New York’s American Museum of Natural History, The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye West) invited the elite in the media industry (select journalists and bloggers) alongside celebrities including Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, Solange, Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Jada Pinkett-Smith and more for an exclusive listening session/presentation of the eagerly anticipated Watch The Throne. Check out some images below courtesy of Rap-Up.

The good folk from Okayplayer were in the house and delivered this an in-depth track by track breakdown of the tracks from the album. Read a selection of some the most anticipated songs below.

“No Church in the Wild” f/ Frank Ocean – The first track starts in darkness, Ocean’s voice crooning over a relentless bassline “Whats a king to a God / a god to a non-believer…?” Later we hear the words “your love is my scripture.” But, possibly inspired by Frank O’s novacane swag, (he sounds more like a star in the making than ever) The Throne talk more about white powder than love or holy wine. Jay compares his influence to “the rock, got the whole game bleached.” Kanye adds: “Coke on black skin got her striped like a zebra / I call that jungle fever.”

Constellations twinkle in the artificial sky of the planetarium theater and the template for the album is established. It feels like a Kanye record in terms of musical vision—with artful arrangements and a rock-opera sense of the dramatic–but Jay leads off the rapping, setting the lyrical pace and a certain dark momentum.

“Lift Off” (f/ Beyoncé) – Beyonce’s voice belts “Take it to the moon and stars, takin’ it to Mars” over a bassline so thick it is almost Sleng Teng, as actual moons and stars wheel overhead and rave beeps count out in “you’re a jerk” time.

“Niggas in Paris” – Mosty a mantra of “That shit crack / ball so hard” amplified a million times by the oh-shit, geek-out effect of the bass drop being synched to the explosion of a dino-killing comet burning up on reentry to the atmosphere, then wreaking havoc across Earth’s surface.

“Gotta Have It” – Kanye starts off with “Hello white America…” over a vocal sample so high and eerie it could be a tribal chorus of Deep Forest-style pygmy voices, punctuated with an almost undecipherable punch-phrase that could be: “what you need?” This whole album is going to go hard.

“New Day” – An auto-tune voice that is not Frank Ocean…the chords are familiar but not recognizable yet. Kanye: “I’ll never let my son have an ego / I make sure he act nice wherever we go / Maybe even make him be a Republican…” Jay matches his father-anxieties, closing out the song with: “My dad left me and I promised never to repeat him…” then repeats the phrase three or four times for emphasis. The hook-voice is now recognizable as a Nina Simone interpolation: “It’s a new day / it’s a new life for me” over whale-song guitar riffs you would expect from a Pink Floyd record.

Who Gon’ Stop Me” – “I Can’t stop” (could be Pusha T’s voice?) Kanye comes the closest here to the juvenile lyrical genius that is his trademark: “Ixnay off the dixnay / That’s pig latin, bitchnay.” (A star storm rains down from the IMAX). Jay raps: “Black car, black bra, black strap / You know what that’s for.” The bass is dubstep or crunk at its most psychedelic. “The only thing that can stop me is me.”

Read the full track by track breakdown here.
Watch The Throne is exclusively available on iTunes on August 8th.

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