• Record Label: Def Jam
  • Release Date: Aug 12, 2011
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 42
  2. Negative: 0 out of 42
  1. Aug 12, 2011
    100
    Perhaps the most extraordinary achievement of this funny, hard-hitting, thrilling album is that it actually sounds like a coherent and purposeful piece of work, a statement of what hip hop can mean, and where it can go.
  2. Predictably, Jay's power is more interesting than Ye's, which was funnier and sicker on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Think the patron's proximity made the protegee nervous? Think the patron figured it would? I do.
  3. Aug 9, 2011
    91
    The album has the flash to dazzle and the substance to last.
  4. Aug 9, 2011
    90
    The truth is that while far from perfect, this is a more complex and well executed album than the vast majority of anything we'll get this year. Or put more simply, who's really challenging Kanye West and Jay-Z for hip-hop's throne. Seriously. Who?
  5. Aug 19, 2011
    85
    Watch the Throne is as much of a celebration of the A-list prominence of its two marquee stars as it is an exegesis of all of that fame's attendant complications.
  6. Aug 11, 2011
    85
    On Watch the Throne, they push each other and have fun doing it, and the result is a stadium-sized event-rap spectacle that still sounds like two insanely talented guys' idiosyncratic vision. That's worth celebrating.
  7. Aug 25, 2011
    81
    Its tone is largely exuberant, even when its content seems dour; its ancillary themes seem surprisingly relatable and humanizing, even though its thesis stresses how uniquely untouchable and alone they are at the top.
  8. Nov 11, 2011
    80
    They turn out to be pretty good influences on one another. Jay sounds generally reinvigorated: good-humored, full of nimble, intricate wit and atypically emotionally revealing, and if Kanye's rhymes occasionally remain as clumsy and crass as his personal life choices, he drops far fewer boners than usual. [#81, p. 56]
  9. Sep 21, 2011
    80
    Hip hop heavy weights stop squabbling for long enough to justify their star billing. [Oct 2011, p.116]
  10. Aug 15, 2011
    80
    Collectively, the project is incredibly ambitious, yet dexterous; West and his band of producers skillfully lay down a musical foundation that makes it easy to dance to and not be worn down by the, at times, didactic messages.
  11. Aug 15, 2011
    80
    It's better than West's last, impressive album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With fantastically varied production, Watch the Throne marches hungrily forward, belying its genesis in a series of swanky hotel rooms.
  12. Aug 12, 2011
    80
    Haters are gonna hate given the artists in question – but to be disappointed with Watch the Throne is to be disappointed with the rap game in 2011.
  13. Aug 12, 2011
    80
    Watch the Throne succeeds in both and in giving us both sides of both artists-the braggadocio and the social consciousness-in nearly equal measure. Which means it should be considered a success without question by all who come across it. I'd hope so, anyway.
  14. 80
    Watch the Throne is one of the more interesting, envelope-pushing mainstream rap albums in recent memory.
  15. Aug 11, 2011
    80
    If Watch the Throne's musical direction seems like West's work, it's worth noting that Jay-Z has the better lyrics.
  16. Aug 11, 2011
    80
    The best tracks are the most pointed, because they go beyond technical style and really delve into each rapper's head.
  17. Aug 10, 2011
    80
    Instead of a monolithic mandate delivered from on high, Watch the Throne delivers something more splintered and haphazard, a legitimate engagement with what it means to be new, in the now. It's a small record by big men with nothing to lose but bigness itself.
  18. Aug 9, 2011
    80
    Today's Hip Hop scene has a rotating cast of notable stars, yet Watch The Throne simply wouldn't have felt the same had it been two different rappers converging for something this monumental.
  19. Aug 9, 2011
    80
    They still sound like two solo rappers. But there's an undeniable synergy that they embraced for this project.
  20. Much like his public persona, Kanye West's presence is hard to ignore on Watch the Throne. Every track is, without a doubt, his and his alone.
  21. For all its shortcomings, Watch the Throne is still damn good.
  22. 75
    The two kings prove much more nimble and disciplined, displaying a confidence that suggests they're not going anywhere.
  23. Aug 19, 2011
    70
    An audacious spectacle of vacuous pomposity as well as one of tremendous lyrical depth, Watch the Throne is a densely packed amalgamation of what Jay-Z has termed "ignorant shit" and "thought-provoking shit," with creative productions that are both top of the line and supremely baffling.
  24. Aug 18, 2011
    70
    At heart, Watch the Throne is a Kanye West production. It's more of a holding pattern than the seismic leap of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, but WTT covers a ton of territory with aplomb; Kanye's hallmark versatility and tasteful maximalism as a producer are again in full view.
  25. Aug 12, 2011
    70
    While Watch the Throne is ultimately a minor entry in their canons, it's still a terrific snapshot of the friendship that has ended up defining mainstream rap.
  26. Aug 11, 2011
    70
    Why is it so easy to cling onto certain bodies of work and wish for each subsequent effort to bear resemblance? Well, the easy answer is because both of these men are very good at telling specific types of stories.
  27. Aug 11, 2011
    70
    On a record this ambitious, this sonically bold, it's a shame two of music's greatest storytellers don't extend their gaze beyond their own luxe lives.
  28. Aug 11, 2011
    70
    We're left with a mess of an album that sounds too good to hate.
  29. Aug 9, 2011
    70
    It's certainly an enjoyable listen, with a few great songs – and at least it actually happened – but with the combined power, money and talent that Carter and West continually brag about, you can't help but feel that Watch the Throne could and should have been better.
  30. Aug 9, 2011
    70
    In the end, Watch the Throne is a very noble attempt at cohesion, but its inconsistency ultimately stalls the project, resulting in an uneven recording that buckles under the weight of its own pressure.
  31. Sep 12, 2011
    67
    That Jay and 'Ye have the courtesy to stop rapping about their money and start attacking real issues--black-on-black crime in "Murder to Excellence," raising children on "New Day"--is icing on a very expensive cake.
  32. 67
    They sound like they're on the same page only during fleeting moments, and when those slip by, listening inevitably is more frustrating than fulfilling.
  33. Aug 12, 2011
    63
    Jay dawns that ever-frustrating mush-mouth flow throughout the LP's duration, and only sounds awake when his bars are bookended by Kanye.
  34. Aug 12, 2011
    62
    When two legends unite, you expect pure, unfiltered brilliance. Watch The Throne has moments of that. On the whole, this album is a half-hearted victory lap.
  35. Aug 19, 2011
    60
    Watch the Throne is far too good to condemn them thus, but not good enough to erase the possibility.
  36. Aug 15, 2011
    60
    Watch the Throne feels all too fractured from the tension of two rappers (and two egos) at the top of their game, trying to get along.
  37. 60
    Nothing can be accomplished if someone doesn't stand up and act as the new gold standard. Kanye West and Jay-Z have proven themselves to be, at the very least, kings of just that notion.
  38. In place of politics, or any kind of point, all this album offers is a parade of premium brands, from Grey Goose to Louboutin. The overriding sensation is akin to reading one of those luxury-shopping magazines you get on planes while a mediocre hip-hop station plays over the headphones.
  39. Aug 11, 2011
    50
    The music itself isn't really the issue. It's the conceit, the fact that even though Kanye and Jay-Z truthfully are nailing what pop can sound like, they use their royal stature not to communicate fresh ideas but pander to their subjects because they f*cking can.
  40. Aug 11, 2011
    50
    Hype and arrogance created Watch the Throne and stifled the creative revelation it could have been. It would be nice if that could serve as a kind of lesson for the hip hop world, but somehow that seems unlikely.
  41. Aug 8, 2011
    50
    In many ways, West and Jay-Z are saying something similar on their new album. But their approach is not to shine a spotlight on their community. Instead, they urge listeners to "watch the throne," and gaze in awe on their good fortune.
  42. 40
    Watch the Throne is more notable for its general lack of impact. Neither as compulsively neurotic as Eminem, as languidly characterful as Snoop Dogg, nor as furiously articulate as Nas, the raps here represent a pretty mediocre, cardboard kind of throne, truth be told.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 299 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 74 out of 86
  2. Negative: 8 out of 86
  1. Aug 16, 2011
    10
    This is incredible album jay z & kanye west did a masterpiece. My favorite tracks are no church gotta have it, n in paris,otis, ham,liftThis is incredible album jay z & kanye west did a masterpiece. My favorite tracks are no church gotta have it, n in paris,otis, ham,lift up,who gon stop me,murder to excellence,joy,prime time and ham. Don't waste your time with the reguler version do yourself a favor get the deluxe trust me its worth it. Kanye is differently the producer of year with this and dark fantasy. I go further and say artist of the year. This best duo of songs put together since the great outkast bless us the speakerbox and love below masterpiece. Thanks for no leaks Full Review »
  2. Aug 12, 2011
    9
    Watch The Throne is just as, if not more experimental than Kanye's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," but in the end doesn't sound asWatch The Throne is just as, if not more experimental than Kanye's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," but in the end doesn't sound as polished or fleshed out musically. This is a very good album, but it's not going to be something that everyone can enjoy. I did enjoy it, and I feel it has some very clear amazing stand-out tracks, such as Murder to Excellence. The epic, castle-music feel that they were going for is captured in their attempts more often than not while the balance of grandiose rhyming on their own status and lifestyle is also complimented by awareness of black culture and where they individually came from. If you complain about the subject matter of this album, you are not listening close enough.

    The low point of the album is Lift Off, which is too long to be an intro, but also too little on relevant vocals to be considered a real song. It just goes nowhere and feels underwhelming. If you are a fan of either Kanye West or Jay-Z then you will likely not be disappointed with this album. It feels like a very clear love/hate type of project. There isn't a cohesive feel or atmosphere that the album has other than attempting to deliver it's tracks to the listener on an epic scale, which works. It gives Watch The Throne a level of versatility that will be another double-edged sword in how it is perceived. No two people will have the same favorite songs on this album. Perhaps greater than a collaboration this monumental though, is that the album is constantly taking chances and never plays it safe. That alone is worth more than a majority of what mainstream music has to offer. I wish I could give it an 8.5 but I can't, so I rounded up to a 9. At the very least, Watch The Throne is an album all music fans should check out. It is Kanye and Jay-Z trying to push themselves, each other, and hip hop to another level. It doesn't work so smoothly all the time, but there will be something for everyone to enjoy.
    Full Review »
  3. Aug 12, 2011
    10
    On of the most hyped hip-hop albums of the decade has finally arrived. Does it deliver? Yes, yes it does. Great tracks like "Murder toOn of the most hyped hip-hop albums of the decade has finally arrived. Does it deliver? Yes, yes it does. Great tracks like "Murder to Excellence", "Who Gon Stop Me", "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Niggas in Paris" are surely to become fan favourite. However, there are hidden gems, like "Made in America" feat. Frank Ocean, "Why I Love You" feat. Mr. Hudson and, by far the deepest song on the album, "New Day", in which Kanye and Jay address their sons, asking them for forgiveness for putting the weight of the celebrity world on their shoulders. The production is another level, just like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, simply amazing. Kanye is the greatest producer of this decade, and in my humble opinion, of all time. His ego is only out done by the amazing level of commitment he puts in his production. The small detail that you catch from time to time never cease to amaze. Jay puts one of his finest verses in this album, and shows his amazing lyrical talent. All in all, an amazing album, done by two of hip-hops biggest diamonds right now. Full Review »