Are there two bigger, better-regarded names working in hip hop today than Kanye West and Jay-Z? Short answer — nope! Which is why their regal collaboration Watch The Throne is such an incredible concept, we almost can’t believe it’ll ever actually come to fruition. And we’re not alone in that — largely because so many details about the album are still so murky. Watch The Throne is as shrouded in secrecy as, we suppose, a meeting of hip hop royalty of this magnitude ought to be. Head below to learn everything we have managed to gather about what’s in store from Beyonce’s paparazzo-hubby and her favorite Swagu-lover.
ALBUM: Originally a 5-track EP, ‘Ye and Hova wondered, “Why stop there?” and decided to deliver a full studio album instead. (It was supposed to drop last fall originally.) Idolator readers voted it the fourth most-anticipated album of this year, right behind Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, and Beyonce. West told MTV the album will be “very dark and sexy, like couture hip hop.”
RELEASE DATE: According to recent speculation, Watch The Throne is coming at us July 4 — but that seems awfully soon for an album that doesn’t even have a lead single out yet. Frankly, we’d be very surprised if they manage to pull this off by Independence Day — but if anyone can make a musical miracle happen, it’s these two.
THEIR COLLABORATIVE HISTORY: Naturally, Watch The Throne won’t be Yeezy and Jigga’s first time in the studio together. They’ve joined forces on tracks such as “Never Let Me Down,” “The Bounce,” and most recently, the awesome “Monster.” While Jay-Z has made a number of collaborative albums (two with R. Kelly, one with Linkin Park), this will be ‘Ye’s first.
SINGLES RELEASED SO FAR: We heard “That’s My Bitch” last fall. Two months later, the duo carved us off a piece of “H.A.M.” (or as it’s known in less-polite circles, “Hard As A Motherfucker”), released all the way back in January to not-so-rave reviews. But according to a may-or-may-not-be-accurate track list, both of these have fallen off the face of the earth in favor of a bunch of tunes we haven’t yet heard.
ALBUM PRODUCERS: Lex Luger produced “H.A.M.” The “Monster” buddies are also said to be collaborating with producers Bruno Mars, Swizz Beatz, No I.D., Pete Rock, and Young Guru, though these are not confirmed yet either. The latest news? Odd Future’s Frank Ocean has been brought in to help finish the album (bringing about further speculation that that July 4 deadline is a pipe dream).
GUESTS: Mrs. Jay-Z herself, Beyonce Knowles, will appear on the rumored second single “Lift Off” alongside Bruno Mars. Beyond that, mum’s the word thus far.
TRACK LIST: A track list for Watch The Throne has surfaced online, though we’re not sure how complete or official it is. For now, it looks like these are the tracks we’ll be getting:
1. Lift Off (feat. Beyonce & Bruno Mars)
2. Murder To Excellence
3. Illest Motherfucker Alive
4. Why I Love You So (Guilt Trip)
5. That Shit Crazy
6. Living So Italian
7. Who Gonna Stop Me
8. Whole Lifetime
9. We Are Young
TOUR PLANS: None announced — but that would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? The pair have made a few appearances together recently, including South By Southwest, a gig at The MOMA, and most recently, the most spoiled teenager in the world’s Sweet 16 party at New York’s Carlton Hotel on June 11. So you never know where they’ll pop up together next. Maybe a bar mitzvah or quinceañera near you!
OUR THOUGHTS: Both rappers have already reached legend status as artists in a way that almost none of their peers could even aspire to, and almost nobody in the business has more clout. But they also have very different strengths and styles to their music — is there room for all that ego on one tiny album? Can they share the throne? Naturally, we’re eager to hear what these two have cooked up, and we can only hope it’s as good as The Blueprint 3 and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy combined. Swizz Beatz, for one, has said the album is well worth the wait: “There’s songs on there that’s making you go crazy.” Let’s hope he’s right.
Want the full scoop on summer albums less shrouded in secrecy? Check out our Summer Preview write-ups on Owl City’s All Things Bright And Beautiful, Eminem and Royce Da 5′9″’s Hell: The Sequel, Weird Al Yankovic’s Alpocolypse, Beyonce’s 4, Selena Gomez & The Scene’s When The Sun Goes Down, Pitbull’s Planet Pit, and Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV.