No Church in the Wild, the opening track on Jay-Z and Kanye Wests Watch the Throne, is not so much a claim to their godliness as it is a manifesto to a new religion over which hip-hops tallest giants reign.
Its a revving introduction to an album painted unapologetically with the raving egos and convictions of both men.
Hungover and recollecting a leopard-clad woman from the night before, West rhymes, Two tattoos, one read No Apologies / The other said Love is cursed by monogamy / Thats somethin that the pastor dont preach / Thats somethin that a teacher cant teach.
Agree or disagree, brazen convictions like this keep us intrigued throughout Watch the Throne. Theyre convictions to which we cant relate; convictions that come, in Jiggas case, by replacing the housing projects of his youth with music projects earning him hundreds of millions of dollars today.
He triumphs over each track like hes triumphed over the rap game: by spewing a combination of confidence, wit and a cockiness we find endearing more often than annoying. Photo-shoot fresh, lookin like wealth / Im about to call the paparazzi on myself, he threatens on Otis. Its a syncopated punch of a track, laced with samples from the great soul singer.
Wests personality comes out shooting, too. Its not easy being outspoken, witty, rich and hated for it. Remember, during Hurricane Katrina, when he told a national television audience that George Bush doesnt care about black people? That led to allegations of racism that he still carries on his shoulder a chip he tempers with hard-earned cash: I heard Yeezy was racist / Well, I guess thats true on one basis I only like green faces, he raps on Who Gon Stop Me, a dark and pounding testament to the duos headstrong mentality.
Watch the Throne isnt all gold-plated rhetoric. Jay-Z and Kanye West are contemplative, reflective rappers. Thats exhibited in New Day, a lyrically dense but musically sweet track in which they talk lament to the unborn princes of the self-proclaimed kings: Sorry junior, I already ruined ya / Cause you aint even alive, paparazzi pursuin ya / Sins of a father make your life ten times harder / I just wanna take ya to a barber, Jay-Z flows.
And West, as narcissistic as he seems, isnt afraid to poke fun at himself: And Ill never let my son have an ego / Hell be nice to everyone, wherever we go / I mean I might even make him be Republican / So everybody know he love white people.
To fit the egos of hip-hops two biggest names into one 16-track disc was a triumph in itself. To flaunt a final product that parades their convictions, talents, weaknesses and desires so engagingly if sometimes harshly is the biggest victory for hip-hops kings.