Label: Roc-A-Fella, Roc Nation, Def Jam

"Black excellence, opulence, decadence," raps Jay-Z on "Murder to Excellence," waiting a full 10 tracks to deliver the album's mission statement. Though, if you couldn't figure out what Watch the Throne was about after peeping the Givenchy-inspired gold-plated album cover, or listening to the infectious, new-age bounce of "Ni**as in Paris", maybe it wasn't meant for you to understand.

A partnership between rap music's two biggest attractions, The Throne is an examination of of life from a height no other rappers have ever managed to ascend to—a whiff of that rarified air that's only sniffed by the likes of Oprah, Will Smith, and a whole lot of non-black people.

Though Jay and Ye have worked together for a decade, this is their tightest collaboration yet. Hov is in rare form, rapping better than he has since threatening to retire, and 'Ye mans the boards and rips the mic with equal aplomb. The result is a frantic project that pushes the boundaries of rap music to its most trumped-up limits.

Yet, beneath all the flossing, there's a heart. Songs like "New Day" and "Welcome to America" find Jay-Z as open as we've ever seen him; and on "Murder to Excellence," Kanye takes a moment from the jet set pimping to speak on the harrowing realities of Chi-City. This album was a gift, one we may never get again, so as Ye suggests, "Let's savor this moment."