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A 'Throne' for two

Kanye West, left, and Jay Z perform during

Kanye West, left, and Jay Z perform during a concert at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 13, 2010. Photo Credit: AP

Two of the biggest artists of the past decade will be sharing the "Throne."

Jay-Z and Kanye West's joint album, "Watch the Throne," was released Monday, Aug. 8, on iTunes, with the physical copy set to be released Aug. 12.

The album was written and recorded around the world -- New York City, England, Austrailia and Los Angeles -- with the artists often recording in different hotels. The fans were teased with five tentative release dates as of January 2011, according to Time magazine, and that undoubtedly amped the anticipation.

A deluxe edition of the album -- with four bonus tracks -- will be exclusively available at Best Buy from Aug. 12 to 22. The exclusive deals with iTunes and Best Buy have angered record stores and raised criticism. The album has had a Fort Knox-like aura surrounding its released tracks -- monitoring (and removing) Internet leaks and having listening parties supervised.

There is little doubt whether the album will peak the Billboard albums chart. Nevertheless, the duo must prove to critics whether the album has the substance to sustain a long life on the charts.

According to Billboard.biz, "Watch the Throne" had more than 155,000 downloads the first day it hit iTunes and is predicted to reach a half-million in its first week. Rolling Stone magazine characterized the album as having "dense rhymes that vacillate wildly between introspection and social consciousness."  The magazine described the track "New Day" as a song that departed from the "usual Wu-Tang aesthetic, but complements the rapper's introspective words with mellow, lightly psychedelic synthesizer tones."

Artists who lent their talents to the album include Beyonce, Pharrell Williams, Swizz Beatz, Mike Dean and others. "Watch the Throne" includes such already released tracks as "Otis," "H.A.M.," "Welcome to the Jungle" (don't expect to unearth another Guns N' Roses cover here) and more.

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