August 8th, 2011
01:34 PM ET
In what Billboard is calling a rare move for a major hip-hop album, industry heavyweights Jay-Z and Kanye West released their buzzed-about album "Watch the Throne" on iTunes today without any tracks being leaked. (Although the snippets from a New York listening party last week circulated the Web briefly, the Interwebs were quickly scrubbed clean, Billboard reports.)
In addition to the album, the record's single "Lift Off," which features Beyonce, is also making waves on the Web much as the track "Otis" did in late July.
On iTunes both the standard and deluxe versions are available (with the deluxe carrying four extra tracks), with the physical album arriving in stores on August 12. Reviews are starting to trickle in, and Time notes that "you can't fail to be impressed by the talent on display."
But in regards to "Lift Off" in particular, Idolator critiques that "the song...works pretty effectively in the anthem category when played at a large, crowded setting. But when blaring out of speakers on, say, your computer, there seems to be a little something missing from the chorus....We're just not sure exactly how much fuel is in this craft's tank."
USA Today, meanwhile, has given the record four out of four stars, saying that "they've realized [their] ambitions" to "raise the creative bar for themselves and hip-hop in general." The paper pegs the must downloads as "No Church in the Wild"; "Who Gon Stop Me"; "New Day"; Welcome to the Jungle" and "Murder to Excellence."
The New York Post was less laudatory, saying that "Watch the Throne” "is neither West’s nor Jay-Z’s best." Nonetheless, you can still "count it as a success, especially getting two performers as dynamic and ego-maniacal as this duo to mesh into a cohesive team."
If you've purchased the standard or deluxe editions, what do you think? Was the album worth the wait and the hype? There's a video pasting together 30-second snippets of the album's songs floating about - take a listen for a bit of a preview:
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