Prince William and Kate Middleton had one, Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries concocted one, so it was a matter of time before hip-hop giants Jay-Z and Kanye West staged their own royal wedding in the form of Watch the Throne.
If you ever wondered what a hip-hop bromance felt like, look no further than Jay and Ye (or, like Brangelina, Janye). Hot off the heels of his Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye decided to team up with best friend and Forbes' richest hip-hop artist, Jay-Z, to solidify their place in music history as the greatest rappers alive.
Although the album debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, it sold only 436 000 copies in its first week compared to the 964 000 units Lil Wayne's Tha Carter IV shifted a few weeks later.
Nevertheless, in case you'd forgotten, the rappers are determined to remind you on every single track of how great they actually are, how much money they have, and how many brands they support. It's a fine line between mid-life crisis delusion and forced self-affirmation. In Illest Motherf***er Alive (on the deluxe album version), Jay-Z compares himself to the Beatles and calls Beyonce his Yoko Ono.
This pretty much sets the tone for the whole album, which is packed with talk of "big rocks" and "gold bottles", "scold models", "black cars" and "a whole lot of money in black bags". On tracks like the monster drum-and-synth-infused Ni**as in Paradise, opulence and decadence are celebrated through thinly veiled lyrics that make Nelly's Tip Drill look like a high school barbecue. Even something like ordering fish fillet becomes a big deal.
But just in case you think them insincere, the duo have thrown in a few tracks to show they're not completely shallow. Frank Ocean joins the team on the soulful Made In America which pays homage to Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, Malcolm X, and "sweet baby Jesus". Kanye rambles on about black-on-black violence in the first half and Hov delivers his thoughts on a "celebration of black excellence". And New Day, which samples Nina Simone's vocals from Feeling Good through auto-tune, showcases a taste of artistic integrity as the two rappers write letters over a piano loop to their future sons, urging them to not turn out like their bling daddies.
Look past the themes of excess, and the album's production quality is impeccable — these rap kings certainly aren't messing around with their beats. The high rollers have grabbed the greatest samples money could buy (including Otis Redding) and, for the most part, put them through auto tune — which is why the album sounds more like a Kanye project.
And of course what would a royal wedding be without A-list guests? For the samples that they couldn't buy, Jay and Ye have enlisted the help of Swizz Beatz, RZA production, Q-Tip, The Neptunes, and Nigeria's Don Jazzy. Even Queen Beyonce herself lends her vocals on Lift Off.
So just as one might suspect, these 'kings' who've likened themselves to icons like Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley, have done so using endless samples of other people's talent that you start wondering where the outsourced talent ends and their own talent begins.
But with that said, their bromance chivalry carries this album and showcases the best sides of both rappers. One can only hope that this musical matrimony makes the history books or there will be a second coming...