Just before midnight, Kanye West and Jay-Z's Watch the Throne, the most anticipated hip-hop album of the year, finally became available exclusively on iTunes, making it perhaps the first major label album of the post-Napster era to not leak ahead of street date. (Those Radiohead albums don't count since they were released independently by the band.) To celebrate #ThroneDay, here's a breakdown of everything that's happening on the Internet to mark this joyous occasion:
• First, there's the album itself. Expectations were absurdly high considering the two talents involved in the collaboration, and for the most part, Kanye and Jay deliver. The productions -- courtesy of all-stars like the RZA, Q-Tip, the Neptunes, Swizz Beatz, Mike Dean, and Kanye, to name a few -- are varied and top-notch, especially on tracks like "N----s in Paris" and "Who Gon Stop Me."
Make no mistake, while Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was made with museums in mind and the Throne rap about a lot of Art History 101 names, WTT is a boombox album. It's still an unconventional listen, full of odd carnival-like interludes and sudden detours, but this is the return to "real hip-hop" that Kanye has been promising since Fantasy dropped last year. Added bonus: There's no filler. Even the four deluxe edition tracks are standouts; in fact, we're shocked room couldn't be made on the Throne for "Illest Motherf---er Ever."
However, while it's a collaborative effort, one of the MCs brings his A-game more than the other. Imagine one of those motorcycles with a sidecar: Throughout Watch the Throne, it's clear Jigga is in the driver's seat and Kanye is along for the ride. It's not even a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid scenario where both are equally quick on their guns -- here, one rapper is clearly Batman, the other is Robin. But it works: Kanye is coming off his own masterpiece and seems fine with playing the role of sidekick, whereas Jay-Z needed a hip-hop refresher coming off his too-poppy-for-our-tastes Blueprint 3.
• The Playlist noticed that the snippet of dialogue that pops up in "N----a in Paris" is from the Will Ferrell figure-skating comedy Blades of Glory. Bit of a lowbrow selection for an album that name-checks artists like Mark Rothko, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Pablo Picasso, but apparently the Throne love the comedic stylings of Ferrell. (The dialogue itself comes from a scene when Ferrell and Jon Heder are discussing the Black Eyed Peas' "My Humps." Go figure.)
• We were hoping that the release of WTT would mark the return of Kanye's Twitter, but so far, it's been all quiet on the tweet front. However, Kanye opted bust out a controversial rant onstage at England's Big Chill festival this weekend. "There is so much bull---t going on in the music industry right now. Someone needs to make a difference. People treat me like Hitler," West told the crowd. Of course, Kanye's Adolf comparison caused a Führer (get it?) and the NME reports that West was booed. It doesn't help that West raps the line, "This is just like the Holocaust" on WTT's "Murder to Excellence." Maybe Yeezy should just avoid all World War II references from here on out.
• According to Ad Age, West will soon offer a $5-per-month subscription that allows fans to literally have access to his itinerary. West and ad agency GlobalHue have teamed up for a behind-the-scenes look at West's life called Voyr. Fans will be able to watch a channel that follows West as he and Jay embark on the Throne tour, plus see Kanye's workout regimen and diet, concert rehearsals and more. Voyr is scheduled to launch September 15th. Considering West is already a lightning rod for controversy, we'd be surprised if this Voyr thing actually happens, since we don't Kanye could handle the pressure of being scrutinized non-stop.
• And the winner of the race to post the first way-too-soon review of Watch the Throne is... Billboard.
• Kanye and Jay-Z are a perfect match, but the Daily Swarm looks at 10 collaborations that should never happen.
• One Hundred BPM has photos of the deluxe packaging of the physical copies of Watch the Throne.
And head over to iTunes, where Watch the Throne is both Number One and Two on the Top Albums chart, to download the LP.