Image 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?
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