Friday, August 12, 2011

The anxiety of affluence

What a knockout of a piece this is!

What makes hip-hop such a durable form is its capacity to scramble fiction and fact; the artifice and the realities that art conceals or amplifies become one. In this way, Watch the Throne feels astonishingly different. It captures two artists who no longer need dreams; art cannot possibly prophesy a better future for either of them. All of this — the luxury goods, the art collection, private compounds, the Oprah-level American Dream — is their reality. This isn't to discount all the personal travails or the fantastic demons unimaginable to the nonfamous. But to speak passionately about contradiction offers narrative cover for the truth that one simply knows better, and the album's anxieties feel like an hour-long quest for the authority to rule from above, a justification to luxuriate. —Hua on Kanye and Jay-Z in Grantland

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