Last week, Kanye West declared that there would never be another Watch the Throne collaboration, due to Jay Z’s involvement with Tidal. If that’s actually true, it’s a shame because Watch the Throne was a pretty good album that contained some of the best moments of each rapper’s respective career.
One of the more interesting tracks on the album is the hypnotic “Welcome to the Jungle” due to its personal nature. Kanye only appears for a brief moment during the bridge, leaving Jay Z alone to channel his inner pain. For a man who loves portray himself larger than life and seems to have it all, it’s a harrowing moment when he reveals that he sometimes wonders why he was even born.
The “jungle” here isn’t the means street of Los Angeles found in Guns N’ Roses song. Rather, its life itself all the heartbreak and depression that comes with it. The song’s namesake isn’t lost on Jay-Z who opens the song, declaring, “Black Axl Rose, move halfs and wholes/Come down to the jungle, just ask for Hov.” The Rose reference aside, the song starts withJay Z in autopilot mode, rapping once again about his hustling days. A few moments later though, he digs deeper and mourns the deaths of his nephew, uncle and father, leaving his faith in God tested.
The second verse is even more disturbing: his mother can’t see his smile and he numbs the pain with champagne and weed to no avail. Looking into the mirror, he doesn’t seem himself, but rather an opponent keeping him down. The song ends with Jay Z admitting, “I’m already dying, so fuck it.”
Throughout the song in various moments, Swizz Beats (who produced the song) shouts out “Godammit!”. It’s one of the few instances in recent years that I can think of, where the phrase retains its original power as an angry cry to God.
If Watch the Throne II never happens, at least we still have the original to listen to.