Watch The Throne...5 Years Later
In most cases, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what I did or where I was five days ago, let alone five years. However, the only thing that ever makes me able to recollect where I was at my life is music. Music is my own imaginary timeline that makes me able to go back and listen to a certain album or song and be able to tell you exactly who I was at that point in time in my life. Which brings me to August 8th, 2011.
19-year old Cole Frayer was in the process of moving into his first apartment. A small one-bedroom apartment that I honestly could not afford, smack in the middle of two neighbors who were all but eager to see a young me move into their building. I didn’t own many household belongings at that time, just a futon, a foldout table I disguised as my desk, & my dresser. As boxes were sporadically laid out throughout my apartment depending on whatever I had written in permanent marker said they belonged, there I was, contently sitting at my table with a few candles lit as I literally watched the clock tick waiting for the release of one of the most anticipated albums of my lifetime.
11:56… 11:57… 11:58… Almost there… 11:59… BAM… 12:00
There it was. Watch The Throne by Jay-Z and Kanye West. Peacefully sitting atop my iTunes library, seemingly all by itself. Now, before I pushed play, I allegedly took a few hits of a very poorly rolled joint I had saved for that exact moment but I can’t be certain because, like I said, my memory is bad. Okay, now I can listen.
Watch The Throne was released during a time that many of you may remember was the heyday of various blog sites. Websites like OnSmash, YouHeardThatNew, and Nah Right were all posting various low-quality phone recordings of the album that had somehow gotten through security at the album’s listening session and I had to honestly force myself not to listen to those snippets because some of you may understand how sacred that “first listen” is. That’s right, I want all 320 of those kilobits per second pouring through my headphones before I listen to certain albums.
Watch The Throne could not have started off any better way as Frank Ocean opened No Church In The Wild with lines like, “What’s a king to a god? What’s a god to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything?” It was the first time in my life that I could honestly say I had ever heard a beat like that, let alone lyrics like those. I’m not sure how many times I replayed that song before I moved onto the next so I could soak it all in, but it was definitely more than five. Okay, I’m starting to feel like a little kid at Christmas who is still playing with the first gift he opened. NEXT!
Lift Off. Am I still listening to the same album? Meh. Not for me. NEXT!
Ni***s In Paris had me literally jumping around my apartment doing that same damn push-up dance Jay was doing in the video. My futon, chairs, boxes, NOTHING in my apartment was safe from me standing on top of it as I yelled out, “Don’t let me get in my zone! DON’T LET ME GET IN MY ZONE!” By then, the joint I allegedly smoked a few minutes was beginning to really kick in as some of the smoothest organs I have ever heard in my life began to play and a spry Otis Redding began to belt out, “It makes it… eeeaaaasiier!” My head immediately darted to my computer, “What. Is THIS?!” I rushed to the computer to get back in full listening mode.
“It sounds so soulful, don’t you agree?!”
“Yes, dad. Yes, it does sound so soulful, I do agree.”
It didn’t take all but a whole four bars before I slowly began to pull my Detroit fitted over my eyes as Jay and Kanye began to trade luxurious raps back and forth with one another. Plenty of lines went completely over my head at the time but I did not have a single care in the world, that wasn’t going to stop me from doing rapper hand motions as I swayed back and forth in middle of my living room. Gotta Have It was no different but I was out of breath by that time so I confined myself to my chair for the next two minutes.
I have a newfound respect for New Day in 2016. When I was 19, I couldn’t understand what these two were talking about, I just knew it was something I wasn’t close to experiencing, yet. I hadn’t begun to create my legacy at that time, how could I possibly understand the depth of a record like this. Now? Now, I understand. “It took me 26 years just to find my path.” I know what I am supposed to do now. I have for quite some time but I wasn’t who I needed myself to be. That used to be the hardest question for me to answer. Now the hardest question I have to answer everyday is how am I going to do what I’m supposed to do. What am I leaving behind for the family I will inevitably create in the future? What am I really doing with my life? That’s the genius of music. It may not connect right now but it will eventually. Which brings me to stream of consciousness that is Welcome To The Jungle, Who Gon’ Stop Me, and Murder To Excellence.
Taking the environment I grew up in, mix it with the confidence of self and knowledge of the world, and combine that with where we are as human beings right now. That’s a deadly combination. “Ain’t nothin’ on the news but the blues.” Who would’ve ever known how much a record made five years ago would still be able to connect with someone to this very day. That’s the genius of music. Something you create living on past your existence. Watch The Throne was everything we expected it to be, while also being something we never anticipated it to be. Jay-Z’s genius work of wordplay, mixed with Kanye West’s powerful mind for production. Five years later and we’re still watching the throne.