- What was the album’s highlight?
Chris Richards: “New Life” really got me. It’s a true Kanyea culpa — he’s sorry, but not really. At all. And not only is he apologizing for his bad behavior through his teeth, he’s doing it through an address to his unborn son! Wild and sad and hilarious and brilliant.
David Malitz: The Frank Ocean beat and vocal cameo on “No Church In the Wild” is pretty exciting. In this meeting of the superpowers it almost feels like they’re grooming an heir apparent by putting him front and center at the outset.
Allison Stewart: I liked the closer, “Why I Love You.” It’s not as immediate as some of the other tracks, but it has the most camaraderie. Too often on the disc, Jay and Kanye seem to be rapping at, not to, each other. This feels like the most truly collaborative track.
- What was the the lowlight?
Richards: “Why I Love You.” Allison, I feel you on the song’s collaborative tone, but anything on an album labeled “featuring Mr. Hudson” is the indisputable lowlight.
Malitz: “Lift Off” with Beyonce. On album filled with endless millionaire boasts, this feels like the most lavish bit of excess.
Stewart: “H.A.M.,” that clunky, dead-on-arrival first single. Everything else on the album sounds awesome by comparison.
- Who comes out looking better? Kanye or Jay?
Richards: Jay-Z. Let’s not forget that the old guy is coming off “The Blueprint 3,” the most tepid hour of his life, which he sandwiched between some Grizzly Bear shows and the launch of his sad, desperate blog. “Watch the Throne” brings Jay’s plummeting stock back up. Maybe we should put the American economy in Kanye’s hands?
Malitz: Kanye comes out looking better from all of this if only because it feels like his album (as you pointed out in your review, Chris). He’s the one shaping the conversation right now.
Stewart: Kanye comes out looking better, because Jay-Z deigned to record an album with him in the first place. Hova's the cool older brother, the quarterback. Kanye is the needy, insecure little brother. He needs Jay-Z. Jay-Z needs no one — probably not even Gwyneth. How long before he tires of Kanye’s I Am Misunderstood Like Hitler schtick and their upcoming tour implodes in spectacular, R. Kelly/”Best of Both Worlds” fashion? I give it three weeks.