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

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Kentucky Catholic School Faces Backlash After Students Berate Indigenous Peoples March Protesters

Representatives from Kentucky's Covington Catholic High School have confirmed plans to look into their student body after several of their students appeared in a viral video harassing and mocking protesters at an Indigenous Peoples March.

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"I heard them saying 'build the wall, build that wall,'" he said.  "This is indigenous land. We’re not supposed to have walls here. Before anyone came here there were no walls, we never even had prisons. We always took care of our elders, we took care of our children. We taught them right from wrong."


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#ipmdc #ipmdc19 #indigenousunited #indigenouspeoplesmarch #indigenouspeoplesmarch2019

A post shared by KC🇬🇺🌴🌴 (@ka_ya11) on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:42pm PST

Speaking to The Enquirer Vincent Schilling shared how Phillips has been attacked in the past for standing up for indigenous peoples. Schilling, who is a member of the Mohawk tribe, said Phillips was pelted with trash just a few years ago by Eastern Michigan University students who hosted a Native American-themed party.

"As a Native American journalist, I find this to be one of the most egregious displays of naïve – I can’t even say naïve. It’s racism. It’s blatant racism," Schilling said.

"The guy has just been through a lot. To see Mr. Phillips treated this way is an incalculable amount of disrespect, and it's absolutely unacceptable in Native culture. As a Native man, I’ve got it countless times myself I’ve been mocked, I’ve been teased, my culture has been ridiculed. This is just another brick in the wall. I wanted so bad to walk up to those kids and say, 'You know this is a Vietnam veteran, right?'"

Director Ava DuVernay slammed the teens for their behavior as well as a number of indigenous social justice figures.

Thank you to @VinceSchilling of @IndianCountry and many others who identified the proud Native man who is being harassed. He is Mr. Nathan Phillips. I’m reposting this video from “ka_ya11” on IG. This man’s words pierce my heart. The grace. The wisdom. The hope.

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) January 19, 2019

Thank you for the kind shout-out @Ava

Nathan Phillips and I have shared in a sacred pipe ceremony to honor Native American veterans.

He is a Vietnam veteran, such behavior is terrible.

Again, thank you for your support.

— Vincent Schilling (@VinceSchilling) January 19, 2019

The teens in the video haven't been identified.

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