两位大牌儿的合作。期待已久。Watch the Throne is the debut studio album by The Throne, an American hip hop duo composed of Jay-Z and Kanye West. The album was released on August 8, 2011, by Roc-A-Fella Records, Roc Nation, and Def Jam Recordings. Recording sessions for the album took place at various recording locations and began in November 2010. The first single, titled "H•A•M", was released in January 2011 with the following single, "Otis", released on July 20, 2011. Jay-Z and West will promote the album with a concert tour during October to December 2011.
Background and recording
Originally intended as a five-track EP by Jay-Z and West, Watch the Throne was revealed by West to be a full-length album in an October 2010 interview for MTV. He said in the interview that they planned to record in the South of France. Production for the album began in November in Bath, England and continued during available times in Jay-Z's and West's respective schedules at recording locations in Australia, Paris, Abu Dhabi, New York City, and Los Angeles. In an interview for Billboard, Jay-Z said that they often recorded in hotel rooms and that the album went through three iterations, as he and West had scaled back from their original musical direction for the album. He also noted difficulties in the recording process, including arguments with West regarding their direction. The album's earlier sessions produced little material that made the final cut.
In January 2011, they regrouped and rented a block of rooms at the Mercer Hotel in New York City and invited a select group of producers and recording artists. Chauncey "Hit-Boy" Hollis, who produced the track "Niggas in Paris", said of recording at the hotel, "There was music going on in every room. I had a room where I was cranking out beats, and then I’d go into the main room with Jay and [Kanye] and play beats for them. Kanye is really hands-on. I would come in with a beat and he’d be like, ‘Take this out, slow it down.’ It would make it sound 100 times better. Jay would then mumble different flows to the beat". Parts of the album were also recorded in New York City's Tribeca Grand Hotel. In an interview for Rolling Stone, Jay-Z discussed their insistence on recording in person and attributed it to the delay in releasing the album, stating "If we were gonna do it, we were gonna do it together. No mailing it in". The album features guest appearances by recording artists Beyoncé, Frank Ocean, and Mr Hudson.
Release and promotion
The album will be released by Roc-A-Fella Records, Roc Nation, and Def Jam Recordings, Jay-Z's and West's respective record labels. Its digital release is scheduled for August 8 and will be available exclusively through the iTunes Store, while its physical release is scheduled for August 12. The album's deluxe CD edition will be sold exclusively by Best Buy through August 23, when it will be available at other retailers. The sales strategy for the album received criticism from other music retailers, who accused the record labels of giving preferential treatment to iTunes and Best Buy. Jay-Z and West received billing on the album as The Throne. On July 4, the album was made available to pre-order on Life + Times, Jay-Z's lifestyle webzine, which redirected to Island Def Jam's website page that featured the album's deluxe version available for $16.99, standard CD for $13.99, a deluxe digital version for $14.99, and standard digital album for $11.99. On July 22, its pre-order was made available on the iTunes Store. Jay-Z and West will promote Watch the Throne with a 24-date, North American concert tour produced by Live Nation, beginning on October 29 and concluding on December 18.
On July 7, Jay-Z hosted a private listening session at the Mercer Hotel in New York City, previewing the album's songs from his MacBook Pro for a select group of reporters and music journalists. It was also exclusive to two teenage fans who had won access to the session for being the first two people to pre-order the album through Jay-Z's Life + Times website. The album's cover and artwork, both designed by Italian designer Riccardo Tisci, were also premiered at the session. Benjamin Meadows-Ingrim of Billboard, who attended the session, said of the previewed material, "The songs were dramatic and boastful, with Jay-Z often taking the lead lyrically, and the collection showcased the differences between the two artists - Jay-Z, the technical marksman, and Kanye, the emotive chest beater". On August 1, Jay-Z and West held a listening session for the album at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City's American Museum of Natural History. The session premiered the album in its entirety and featured attendance from journalists, models, industry types, and recording artists such as Busta Rhymes, 88-Keys, and Beyoncé Knowles.
Following West's announcement via his Twitter account, "H•A•M" was officially released as a digital download on January 11. It charted at number 23 on the US Billboard Hot 100. On July 20, "Otis" was premiered on Funkmaster Flex's Hot 97 radio show and subsequently leaked to the Internet. It will be sent to rhythmic contemporary and urban contemporary radio on August 9. Its cover art was created by Riccardo Tisci. "Otis" debuted at number 47 on the Billboard Hot 100. A music video for the song was filmed by director Spike Jonze in Los Angeles.