Kanye West and Jay-Z’s ‘Watch the Throne’ — arguably the most-hyped collaboration album in hip-hop history — has been released, debuting on iTunes at 12AM last night (August 8).
The long-delayed, closely-guarded project is a throwback of sorts. Recorded entirely in person, eschewing remote recording sessions or electronic communications to protect the release from bootleggers, ‘Watch the Throne’ had a recording budget that allowed for recording sessions in New York, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Sydney and the U.K.
The majestic gold artwork was designed by Givenchy Creative Director Riccardo Tisci. While Kanye had a hand in producing the majority of the album with longtime collaborator Mike Dean, ‘Watch the Throne’ also boasts a long list of contributing producers, including 88-Keys, the Neptunes, the RZA, Q-Tip, Swizz Beatz, Lex Luger and S1, with guest features by Beyonce, Frank Ocean, Mr. Hudson and Otis Redding (sort of).
Though the album is rumored to have caused considerable strain on their friendship, Jay and Kanye have been collaborating together, first as mentor and student, and later as peers, for over a decade. ‘Watch the Throne’ is a powerful testament to their artistic maturity.
For now, iTunes has sole distribution of the release in both standard and deluxe editions. ‘Watch the Throne’ will be made available to all digital retailers on August 12, and will finally see physical copies at Best Buy the same day. Best Buy will have the physical exclusive until August 22, much to the dismay of many indie record stores.
A 24-date tour has been announced in support of the album, kicking off in Atlanta on Oct. 29, and concluding on Dec. 18, in Vancouver, B.C. Tickets went on sale earlier today, and can be purchased here. A visual for the duo’s second single, ‘Otis,’ has reportedly been shot by frequent Kanye collaborator Spike Jonze.
Have you heard ‘Watch the Throne’? What do you think?