Last night at the Mercer Hotel a slew of journalists (your trusty reporter not among them) and two contest winners were invited to hear a handful of tracks that are expected to appear on Watch The Throne, the long-gestating collaboration between Kanye West and Jay-Z that’s apparently going to see the light of day soon. Jay, after catching a Yankees game, stopped by to offer up details on the tracks to the assembled, and both Billboard, AllHipHop, and MTV have already posted accounts of the night. A few highlights, below.
• “Singer and odd future affiliate Frank Ocean appeared on two songs. Beyoncé appeared on one, tentatively titled ‘Lift Off.’… Jay-Z said although he would prefer to release the album w/o a single, they would probably shoot a vid for [‘Lift Off’].” [BB]
It’ll be “Empire State Of Mind”… in space!
• “Kanye and Jay-Z recorded whole album together, in same rooms. Didn’t want to mail verses back and forth.” [BB]
A nice retro touch. (See also the Otis Redding sample that, as MTV noted, the assembled asked to hear again.) It was apparently recorded in hotels, the Mercer among them.
• “On another particularly interesting song, Jay-Z and Kanye deliver verses directed to their hypothetical unborn sons.” [MTV]
What can you say here except !!! and maybe also “interesting” is a bit of an understatement. Especially because: “[Jay-Z thinks that] Kanye’s verse, running down his myriad past mistakes, is one of his best ever. ‘The honesty of it, it’s just really cool.'”
(Also, what if one of them has a daughter?)
• “[The second track Jay played] concludes with the crash of a slowed-down menacing beat, reminiscent of ’80s instrumentalists Art of Noise.” [AHH]
Rock critics, get your pens ready!
• “Journalists were allowed to take notes and even given notepads, but no tweeting was allowed. One journo removed for live tweeting” [BB]
That journalist was apparently the representative from the bleeding-edge culture bible The Fader, who was giving details on songs as they played over the suite-cum-studio’s sound system. That on-the-scene reporting stopped after track four, though; those tweets were deleted from the magazine’s account (although the speculation lives on) and this apology now rests in its place:
Our bad for breaking the Watch the Throne tweet rules, excitement got the better of us. Don't hate us Jay, don't hate us Kanye.
— The FADER (@thefader) July 8, 2011
Our bad for breaking the Watch the Throne tweet rules, excitement got the better of us. Don’t hate us Jay, don’t hate us Kanye.-
Ah, begging. The PR rep for Jay also asked the assembled to not quote any verses they’d heard in their reports, in part because the record isn’t apparently done; that all of them (save the Fader dude, who noted an Olsen twins reference) obliged is not too surprising, although one has to wonder what a similar request from a star with lesser wattage would be met with. (Same with the live-tweeting moratorium.) So basically in order to stop leakage the music industry has to create a bunch of huge stars who journalists are afraid of pissing off? That shouldn’t be too much of a problem, right?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 8, 2011