10 Things We Learned From The 'Watch The Throne' Listening Session

You should know a few things before I begin. My last Hov listening session was Blueprint. Ten years ago. Small studio on the West side. The Source’s Mind Squad—Carlito Rodrigiez, Erik Parker, Kim Osorio, Boogie and myself—were in the building. Jay wasn’t quite the showman he is now. Mr. Carter was much more of an introvert. His descriptions of those classic cuts were measured. No wasted words. He never broke character. The new issue had dropped and that was really his focus. The reviews in particular. He knew what he had in Blueprint so there was no need for him to oversell. The only time he cracked a smirk was when “Takeover” played. The notorious line dropped: “Ask Nas he don’t want it with Hov.” He laughed (you know that signature cackle). That was as far as the record went that evening. Not sure if he was holding back or the verse hadn’t been recorded yet.

Ten years later hip-hop’s commander in chief works a room at the Mercer Hotel like a politician. He’s a jokester. Yet never offensive. Slight jabs. All in fun. He’s ready to play Watch The Throne. A room full of journalists are eager to hear it. Here’s what I learned about the album and Shawn Corey Carter last night (in no particular order of importance):

1 → I’m a fan of obnoxious, stuntastic hip-hop. Always have been. So “Italian Life,” (All titles are tentative, BTW) where both Jay and Ye flow majestically over an “Ave Maria” sample was grand. It’s not for everyone. Purists will probably puke. But if this album comes out this summer you will hear that record out of several automobiles. Drops, preferably. I forget if he said the song was inspired by the two having penne pasta one night. Anyhow, it’s rich. Maserati drop-top rich (one of Ye’s references to many luxurious toys).  

2 → You didn’t like “Ham?” Well guess what? They two titans got the memo. So they stripped back on making everything sound stadium-ready. Surely it’s an outstanding performance record that rocks stages, but, as Jay said, “No one is trying to go Ham in the house.”

3. → “Ottis Redding” is fantastic. Throwback to College Dropout in terms of production. High replay value. Great lines, one being “I made Jesus walk so I ain’t never goin’ to hell.” There’s humor: “I’m about to call paparazzi on myself.” For all the standout lines, none outdo the track. The production on “Otis Redding” is that good.

4. → Kanye’s candor has no bounds. He’s aware of his shortcomings. When he talks about the wisdom he would pass down to his son** it’s so unapologetically honest. He warns don’t be like your dad; says he would never have his seed have an ego; and warn the child to never let his mom move to LA. Jay’s equally open. He starts of by admitting that he’s ruined it for his son as he would “literally be born with a spotlight on him.”

** Not sure what this song was called

5. → Who cares what people think at a barbecue? Jay doesn’t. This is not Watch the Throne related but still a worthy anecdote. Ye was adamantly against “Run This Town” as a single because when the song played at a barbecue no one put their chicken down to head nod like possessed humans. He wanted Jay to go with “New York” first. Thought it was a bigger record. Jay, however, understood that “New York” needed to be set up. Long story short, Jay went with his gut. It all worked out. What’s telling is that Ye was willing to sacrifice a song that he clearly shines on in order for what he thought was the greater good. If you can’t respect that your whole perspective is wack.

6. → Nothing was dialed in on this record. Whether it was NY, LA, Paris, Australia, the two recorded the entire record together.

7. → Frank Ocean has a mean pen. And the pen is Jay-Z approved. Not only does Frank appear on this album but he will also be on Jay’s next solo project. The song is already in the can.

8. → RZA made the album. I mention this because I was told the most hilarious story about RZA and this project. It’s one of those that I’ve gotta keep in the vault, but nonetheless, happy RZA made the cut.

9. → Jay wants to surpass the Beatles’ record for most #1 albums. They’re at 16. He’s at 11.

10. → The expectations for this album are insane. And if Jay and Ye delivered the Holy Trinity of rap records people would still find flaws. But they do this for the culture and the record isn’t done yet. What I will say is I heard some great material last night. And goodnight. —Jermaine Hall, VIBE Editor-In-Chief

From the Web

More on Vibe

Mike Coppola/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Dr. Dre Released From Hospital, Will Receive 24-Hour Home Care

Dr. Dre was released from L.A. Cedars Sinai Medical Center on Friday (Jan. 15), nearly two weeks after he suffered a reported brain aneurysm. Ice T confirmed the news tweeting, “Just FaceTimed with @drdre. He just made it home. Safe and looking good.”

The 55-year-old music mogul will remain under 24-hour care for the next few weeks as medical professionals continue to monitor his progress. Doctors are still unclear on what caused the aneurysm.

Dre’s hospital release comes days after new details were revealed in his divorce from estranged wife, Nicole Young. According to court documents publicized this week, Nicole accuses Dre, birth name Andre Young, of putting a gun to her head in 2000 and 2001. She also details other alleged abuse incidents in 1995 (before they were married) and in 2016, when he allegedly punched her in the face and kicked down her door.

The Grammy winner has denied Nicole’s abuse claims.

Nicole and Dre tied the knot in 1996. The pair share two adult children, Truice and Truly. Nicole filed for divorce last summer.

In addition to demanding that Dre cover her legal fees, Nicole wants the court to take the abuse allegations into account when “awarding support and fees.” Dre has already agreed to pay $500,000 of Nicole’s legal bills and $2 million in temporary spousal support.

Continue Reading
Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty Images

Cardi B Lands Leading Role In Comedy ‘Assisted Living’

Cardi B is making her way back to the big screen. The Bronx native officially landed her first leading role in the upcoming Paramount comedy, Assisted Living.

According to Variety, Cardi will play a small time crook struggling to find a hiding place after her latest heist fails. Her character, “Amber,” disguises herself as an elderly woman and hides out at her grandmother's nursing home. The film is described as a “raucous comedy” similar to Mrs. Doubtfire and Sister Act.

Paramount acquired the rights to Assisted Living in 2019. The film’s script was penned by This Is Us writer, Kay Oyegun.

Cardi, 28, made her film debut in the 2019 celeb-heavy stripper flick, Hustlers. The “WAP” rapper appears to have hinted at her Assisted Living role in a recent interview with Billboard where she dished on filming scenes for Fast & Furious 9.

“After ‘Hustlers’ I filmed a little bit for 'Fast & Furious' so I felt like ‘I’m ready for this,’ I knew what to expect,” she explained. “But the characters were a little different so I was like ‘Oh wow, I’m going to need more acting classes.’ I’m planning on doing a movie this year and I’m going to be the lead role so I’m like ‘I need to execute this flawlessly.’”

Besides film, Cardi was a judge on the Netflix completion show, Rhythm & Flow, and landed her own Facebook Watch series, Cardi Tries.

Continue Reading
Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Wendy Williams Reveals She Was Date Raped By ‘80s R&B Singer

Wendy Williams revealed that she was date raped by  ‘80s R&B singer, Sherrick, early in her radio career. The talk show host shared the story with reporters while promoting her Lifetime biopic Wendy Williams: The Movie on Tuesday (Jan. 12).

“He mesmerized me with his twinkling eyes,” she recalled. “He flipped the interview around to where he was interviewing me — I was just gaga over this man and he asked me to go to an album release party with him that night.

“Before the party, I was date raped by him,” said Williams.

Sherrick, born Lamotte Smith, was a member of the group Kagny, whose song is featured on The Last Dragon soundtrack. He signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1987 and scored a marginal hit with the single “Just Call” off his debut self-titled album. Sherrick struggled with sobriety but declared himself “drug-free” before dying of unknown causes in 1999.

Williams says that she was raped in Sherrick’s Washington D.C. hotel room and it, unfortunately, wasn’t her first time being sexually assaulted. The New Jersey native had been date raped in college. “Those types of things happen to girls all the time and they’ve been happening a lot, to a lot of our mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and their great-great-grandmothers too.”

From the sounds of it, Sherrick's widow doesn't exactly believe Williams' story. She not only questioned Williams' account but wondered why she waited so long to go public, and why she didn't call police at the time of the incident.

“As I will never minimize or dismiss the horrid actions of sexual assault, I am saddened that Ms. Williams feels the need to publicly make these allegations when the man she is accusing is no longer on this earth to defend himself,” Lynne Conner Smith said in a statement to Page Six.  “Our family does not know Ms. Williams and are not aware of any relationship or encounter they may have had.”

The sexual assault will be chronicled in the film, as well as other details from Williams' life -- like her rise to talk show fame, her battle with drug addiction, and marriage to ex-husband Kevin Hunter.

Wendy Williams: The Movie premieres on Lifetime on Jan. 30.

Continue Reading

Top Stories