Kanye West and Jay-Z’s ‘Watch the Throne’ Is Finally Released

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Jason DeCrow / File / AP

Kanye West, left, makes a guest appearance as Jay-Z performs at Yankee Stadium in New York.

First there was anticipation. Then came delays. But before you think we’re talking about the start time for a typical Kanye West concert, we’re actually referring to Aug. 8 — the date when West and Jay-Z finally dropped their Watch the Throne album to the public. Fans were excited to find out if the reality matched up to the hype.

iTunes was the virtual place to be at midnight, as Apple’s music store got the exclusive release (it’s set to be released in stores on Aug. 12). The album is available in standard and deluxe forms (there are four extra tracks on the deluxe, including “The Joy,” which features Curtis Mayfield). Check it out in the video above, which features 30-second segments of each track.

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The backstory to Watch the Throne may well go down in music lore. It was not only written and recorded around the world, but it also had five release dates, going back as far as January 2011. But it’s with us now, and you can’t fail to be impressed by the talent on display. In addition to our two main players, you’ve got producers and artists including Frank Ocean, Otis Redding, Mr. Hudson, Swizz Beatz, RZA, Q-Tip, Curtis Mayfield and Beyoncé (who presumably would have needed a pretty convincing excuse to have not appeared).

Just as impressively, the pair have managed to keep a lockdown on those dreaded leaks: snippets that made their way online have seemingly been removed, with the listening sessions heavily monitored. The reviews have started to come out — and if other critics share the opinion of USA Today‘s Steve Jones, Kanye and Jay will be on cloud nine. Jones gave it 4 stars out of 4, noting that the album includes “a potent set of tracks that finds [Kanye and Jay-Z] stepping up their games and stepping out of their comfort zones,” concluding that “they’ve created an artistic Throne that other rappers can aspire to.” From the little NewsFeed has heard, it sounds about as soulful as anything either has ever done, which bodes well for a full listen.

Of course, there will also be the opportunity to witness the partners in rhyme do their thing in the live arena. But that tour has also been delayed, with the opening date now scheduled for Oct. 29 in Atlanta. If you manage to get a ticket, make sure you listen closely to West in between tracks. At the Big Chill music festival in England this past weekend, he went off on a bizarre rant, comparing himself to Adolf Hitler for his feelings of being misunderstood and underappreciated.

“I walk through the hotel and I walk down the street, and people look at me like I’m f—ing insane, like I’m Hitler,” he said. “One day the light will shine through, and one day people will understand everything I ever did.” Perhaps if the quality control over his remarks matched the undoubted brilliance of his music, people would understand him better. Will West let Watch the Throne do the talking? We wouldn’t bet on it. (via CBS)

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Glen Levy is an executive producer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @glenjl. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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