(Editors Note: We love music here at Egotastic! And, well, we love chicks who know music. Hence, we jumped at the chance to have Maud Deitch of PureVolume.com to pen us a semi-regular column on a musical topic of her choosing. Maud knows music. This is Maud on Music.)
So what do you do when you’ve lived all your dreams and then some, when you’ve managed to maintain your cool in the face of fame and fortune, and when you’ve married your equally brilliant, successful and super hot female counterpart? You hook up with someone batshit crazy and wreck a $300,000 Maybach is what you do.
By teaming up with Kanye West, who has produced tracks on past Jay-Z records and who’s 2005 debut record The College Dropout beat out The Black Album for Best Rap Album at the Grammys, Jay-Z is making a statement that there’s no place he can go but even higher, reveling in his glory for a little while—showing everyone how far he’s come.
Watch the Throne, the collaboration between Jay-Z and Kanye West, is basically the rap album equivalent of a dick measuring contest, except we all already know that HOVA and Yeezy have the biggest dicks in the rap game. They rhyme in hyperboles, riffing on everything from art, cars and clothes to immigration and race, with a combination of brashly conspicuous consumption and complete denial of the state of the real-world economics around them. Despite some shining moments, the record more or less comes off as an adolescent “fuck you” to the seemingly imagined phantom folks who ever doubted the two masters. The contrast between Jay-Z’s typically measured, graceful image and West, the slightly twisted, vaguely insane artist, able to produce highly calculated pieces of egomaniacal expression while bum-rushing stages and traumatizing innocent young pop singers, is incredibly compelling, even if slightly unnerving.
What is Jay-Z’s biggest accomplishment to date? It’s pretty boring and unsexy, but nowadays, it matters most -- managing to keep Watch the Throne under wraps until its release date -- the spy-movie-style locked briefcases and biometric locks on hard drives are only worthy of rap royalty of Jay-Z and West’s caliber. The cost of such security measures is claimed to not be nearly as much as one might think, but it still reflects a kind of opulence that is a real measure of success. To protect a piece of art so precious that it requires round the clock security and its own seat on the airplane must mean that whoever created it is at the top of their game.
Watch the Throne is not the end of Jay-Z, nor is it the pinnacle of hip hop as a whole. The record represents perhaps two of the biggest successes of a relatively young genre. As both men contemplate the legacy they’re leaving their boys, the legacy that’s brought them to where they are, and the way they fit into the world as a whole, there are countless questions as to where both the artists, and their genre, will go from here. Shawn Carter had Biggie, who also came from the corner; Kanye had Shawn Carter, who got out; and the future of hip hop has two of the most successful men in the world, reveling like insane, candy-crazed children in an oblivion-soaked candy store. What does this mean for the hip hop generations to come? Who the hell knows?