Def Jam VP of A&R Bu Thiam breaks down the tracks on Watch The Throne with MTV News Since Kanye West first announced Watch The Throne on Twitter in August 2010, the tag-team LP with Jay-Z had been shrouded in mystery. In the months leading up to the album’s August 8, 2011 release, details remained sketchy. There was no loaded press run, super radio push, music video or album leaks leading up to the drop. In fact, “H.A.M” and “Otis” were the only songs released to the general public; beyond that there was nothing. A few were in the know, like Def Jam VP of A&R Bu Thiam who, was there throughout the recording process and helped Hov and Yeezy achieve their sonic goal. “As an A&R it’s a process of trying to bring out the artist’s creative ideas and their visions,” Thiam told MTV News of his general job function in an exclusive interview.
However, when dealing with such accomplished artists like Kanye and Jay, who both have classic works under their belts, Thiam’s role wasn’t that of a traditional A&R rep. “When it comes to big artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, a label can’t just assign you to a project like that,” he said. “You can’t just be like, ‘Yo Kanye we’re gonna have such and such be your A&R.’ He’s gonna be like, ‘Who the f— is that? Hell no.’ So they have to really rock with you off [general principle] and that’s how the whole process goes.” And rock they did. From start to finish, Bu Thiam was there, lending his professional opinions, helping to build tracks and carry them from concept to a fully mixed and mastered product. There aren’t too many people who can break down Watch The Throne Breakdown track-by-track, but then again there aren’t many people in the game like Bu Thiam.
“Lift Off” featuring Beyoncé (Produced by Kanye West, Jeff Bhasker and Mike Dean)
” ‘Lift Off’ was definitely one of the earlier records [recorded for the album]. [Putting the sound effects on the record] is a process because initially a record might just be a beat, a chorus and a hook and as [Kanye] hears things he adds and takes things out.”
“Gotta Have It” (Produced by The Neptunes and Kanye West)
“It’s like a beat battle. ‘Ye might play something and then Pharrell might play something. They go back and forth man and then they come to a point where they come with one beat.”