Jay-Z & Kanye West Ended Bachelorhood On A High Note On "Watch The Throne"

BYAron A.5.8K Views
Link Copied to Clipboard!
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
On "New Day," Kanye and Jay reflected on their legacies beyond the grave; an open letter to the hypothetical heirs of the throne

There’s a large gap between royalty and celebrity, though paparazzi and tabloid publications often treat them synonymously. Royalty requires an heir to the throne; a bloodline to inherit the empire. Watch The Throne cemented Jay-Z and Kanye West’s status as royalty in the United States. An opulent reflection of two Black men in America who beat the odds of a system that was created against them.

Jay materialized pop culture’s fascination with “power couples” when he and Beyoncé tied the knot in 2008. Meanwhile, Kanye was America’s playboy prancing around with haute couture’s gatekeepers and European supermodels. In retrospect, perhaps ‘Ye was the influence that led to Beyoncé’s Lemonade -- but that’s another story.

Prior to the release of Watch The Throne, Kanye West and Jay-Z’s individual musical contributions defined American culture and music. Albums like The Blueprint and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy transcended pop culture and asserted Jay-Z and Kanye West as internationally renowned and recognized global stars. Between the success of Roc-A-Fella as a label and budding ventures into the world of liquor with Ace of Spades, Jay solidified himself as a music mogul who just so happened to also be the greatest rapper alive. And while Kanye had yet to fully redefine sneakers and fashion with the Yeezy brand, albums like 808’s & Heartbreak shifted both the aesthetic and sound of hip-hop -- the impact of which can still be felt today.

Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

Together, they pushed each other’s pens in brotherly competition and commemorated remarkable achievements. Every live show included a display of a Givenchy-designed U.S. flag, symbolic of attaining the American dream and shattering the art world’s construct that dictated hip-hop to be a lesser-than artform. More importantly, Watch The Throne served as Jay-Z and Kanye West’s final hoorah before the life-altering experience of fatherhood. A legacy had already been built by the time Watch The Throne was released but the question remained: who’s going to carry it?

Parenthood and family were a focal point of Watch The Throne, whether directly on songs like “New Day” or more subtly on a joint like “Made In America.” These recurring themes have been explored in their solo work, whether on Jay’s verse on “Where Have You Been” or Kanye's Graduation highlight “Champion.” Collaboratively, however, they weren’t solely looking at the past and reflecting on the missteps of their own fathers, but rather looking forward and laying their own cards on the table.

RZA-produced “New Day” is a left-turn on the tracklist following tracks like “Otis” and of course, “N***as in Paris,” reveling in the luxuries that afforded them space in upscale settings like Paris Fashion Week (which has certainly embraced the hip-hop community more since the album’s release 10 years ago). Similar to 2Pac’s “Letter To My Unborn,” Kanye and Jay reflected on their legacies beyond the grave; an open letter to the hypothetical heirs to the throne. Even financially, Kanye and Jay-Z began focusing on turning their personal riches into generational wealth. 

North West and Blue Ivy Carter won’t have to deal with the financial hardships their parents went through. On “New Day,” Jay-Z and Kanye’s biggest fear, then, is their reputations weighing on their children. I just want him to have the easy life, not like Yeezy life," raps Kanye. "Just want him to be someone people like/ Don’t want him to be hated all the time, judged/ Don’t be like your daddy that’d never budge.” 

Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images

The battle between celebrity and humanity has been a constant tug-of-war for Kanye West. His outspoken nature, more times than not, has backfired on his true intentions. Donda West’s death played a role in Kanye’s “behavioral troubles,” if you want to call it that. The VMA incident with Taylor Swift didn’t help, nor did his infamous comments about George W. Bush, but he spat in the face of adversity, and most of all, the premature stages of cancel culture. For Jay, that same scrutiny littered the early parts of his career when he faced accusations of misogyny and was charged with the stabbing of Lance “Un” Rivera. These moments stand out as pivotal in Jay’s career, displaying his ability to overcome adversity and his growth as a human being. The father that he never had was the one he aspired to become. 

“Sorry junior, I already ruined ya/ ‘Cause you ain’t alive, paparazzi pursuin’ ya/ Sins of a father make your life 10x harder/ I just wanna take ya to a barber/ Bondin’ on charters, all that shit that I never did/ Teach you good values so you cherish it.” -- Jay-Z.

WTT was a final outing for Jay-Z and Kanye West as they reveled in bachelorhood. Though Jay put a ring on Beyoncé years prior and Kanye was practically on his way to becoming a patriarch in the Kardashian household, Watch The Throne was the final page before beginning a new chapter of their lives as family men.

Their subsequent releases were reflections of that, as Watch The Throne helped usher in this new era of grown man raps4:44 was an unadulterated glimpse into Jay’s otherwise private personal life, providing his most compelling body of work of the past decade. Similarly, the as-of-yet-to-be-released DONDA is an homage to Kanye’s mother as well as a reflection on the trials-and-tribulations of building his own family in the midst of a headline-grabbing divorce.

It’s officially been 10-years since the release of Kanye West and Jay-Z’s collaborative album. A decade since the powerhouse duo set the tone for hip-hop for the decade to follow. Kanye and Jay’s relationship became strained within that time, though a recent reunion on DONDA spells hope. If the possibility of a sequel manifests itself before the end of the year, how will fatherhood inform Watch The Throne 2?

About The Author
Aron A. is a features editor for HotNewHipHop. Beginning his tenure at HotNewHipHop in July 2017, he has comprehensively documented the biggest stories in the culture over the past few years. Throughout his time, Aron’s helped introduce a number of buzzing up-and-coming artists to our audience, identifying regional trends and highlighting hip-hop from across the globe. As a Canadian-based music journalist, he has also made a concerted effort to put spotlights on artists hailing from North of the border as part of Rise & Grind, the weekly interview series that he created and launched in 2021. Aron also broke a number of stories through his extensive interviews with beloved figures in the culture. These include industry vets (Quality Control co-founder Kevin "Coach K" Lee, Wayno Clark), definitive producers (DJ Paul, Hit-Boy, Zaytoven), cultural disruptors (Soulja Boy), lyrical heavyweights (Pusha T, Styles P, Danny Brown), cultural pioneers (Dapper Dan, Big Daddy Kane), and the next generation of stars (Lil Durk, Latto, Fivio Foreign, Denzel Curry). Aron also penned cover stories with the likes of Rick Ross, Central Cee, Moneybagg Yo, Vince Staples, and Bobby Shmurda.