Kanye West and Jay-Z announce collab EP, drop all-star 'Monster'

jay-z-kanye-westImage Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.comKanye West is a man of his word. Last Friday night, he inaugurated that “Good Fridays” free music program he’d promised with a double whammy via Twitter. First, he announced a collaborative project with his big bro Jay-Z: “Me and jay bout to drop a 5 song album called ‘Watch the Throne.’” Sweet! A few hours later, he let loose “Monster,” an aptly titled posse cut that he identified as the second track on Watch the Throne. (No word on whether “Monster” will appear on West’s still untitled solo album this fall.)

In addition to the classic pairing of West and Jay-Z, the six-minute “Monster” features vocals from rappers of the moment Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, and — wait for it — indie-folk warbler Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Almost everyone turns in a rewind-worthy performance. I say “almost” because of Vernon, who opens the track on a mumbly and uninspired note. Here, to save the track’s energy levels, comes a short but slick verse from Ross, in which he appears to refer to himself with a certain pride as a “fat motherf—er.”

These appetizers dispensed with, West introduces the song’s main hooks, repeating “everybody knows I’m a motherf—ing monster” and “I’ma need to see your f—ing hands at the concert” over a murky bounce that sounds sort of like the mutant grandchild of “Gold Digger.” He soon transitions into his verse, which shares the inspired fury of his recent work. Key quotable: “Have you ever had sex with a pharaoah?” And: “My presence is a present, kiss my ass.” Jay-Z takes the mic after another chorus, firing off a Roget-worthy synonym list for “monster”: “Sasquatch, Godzilla, King Kong, Loch Ness/Goblin, ghoul, a zombie with no conscience.” Later, he grumbles about enemies “with no fangs/Trying to draw blood from my ice-cold veins.”

Next up is Nicki Minaj. The following day on Twitter, West had this to say about her contribution: “can we just talk about Nicki’s verse???????!!!!!!!!! I toooooooooooooooold yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallll!!!!!!!!!!!!” She does kind of steal the show — something she’s done often enough this year, but it’s a lot harder when you’re sharing a track with Jay-Z and Kanye West than with, say, Trey Songz or Mariah Carey. “You could be the king, but watch the queen conquer,” she coolly informs the guys. “First things first, I’ll eat your brains/Then I’ma start rocking gold teeth and fangs.” From there on in, Minaj pretty blacks out, reeling off punchlines in those wacky voices her critics love to hate. The song goes on for another full minute after that, mostly so Justin Vernon can moan some more, but you can feel free to stop the track as soon as Minaj stops rapping.

Head to Nah Right to stream the NSFW “Monster.” Then sound off: Who do you think had the best verse? Do you think Justin Vernon adds anything whatsoever to this track? Looking forward to the rest of Watch the Throne?

(Follow The Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

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Comments (17 total) Add your comment
  • Menchy

    Love it. Nicki is the future of rap.

    • PeterBilt

      Um. No

      • Anonymous


  • Chaz Winterbottom

    Can’t EW cover something besides all this hip-hop crap? What about covering some good rappers like Eminem or Kid Rock or the Beastie Boys?

    • Justin

      I like Eminem plenty. But he has had plenty of coverage this summer.

      Do you like any non-white rappers..?

      • Chaz Winterbottom


    • Gravity

      Kid Rock? A good rapper? Bahahahaha.

  • Danny

    Nicki killed it. With the sh!t she says and those voices, it’s like she whipes out everyone else on the track. Like, why are they even there? :)

  • maggie25

    What does it mean that she blacks out? Pitchfork said something similar and I am apparently ignorant when it comes to that term.

    • Bdub

      Black Out means she’s killing it naturally, just off the top.

      I can’t wait to hear this song.

      • Dwill

        well your about the only one who hasnt so go youtube it or somethin. hahaa. its fire!!!

  • HC

    I’m not a rap/hip-hop fan, but I wanna say this is awesome b/c Justin Vernon has something to do with it… I actually enjoy listening to this whole song and do not feel embarrassed listening to it in public.

  • Amz

    I aint feeling it man

  • HumbleOne

    This is a dope song. My only objection is Nicki’s animation. When she first started off, I was like “yess! No crazy voices.” Not only does she do one crazy voice, she rambles off into several which at some point, I stop listening to her and go back to the first three rappers.

    • Nick Combs

      No one complained about Luda’s, Busta’s or Missy’s funny voices. I don’t understand why it’s a problem when Nicki does them. I like the voices! It makes her unique and interesting. That’s why she’s killing the game right now!

  • bon bon

    Decent Kanye song, not a classic. Point well taken about Vernon — if you’re looking for a vocalist to keep the energy up, that is not him. I’m glad Ye is giving him more exposure though, and if you’re in a mood to keep the energy down then the bon iver records are effin fantastic.

  • Joel H

    Kanye, just go away.

    Talentless, juvenile, racist, gutter trash, you wish you could suck on Taylor Swift’s trophy.

    Has been, loser.

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