The World Famous Tony Williams - King or The Fool

Posted 4 years ago

To be one of the few people on Earth that Kanye West trusts, both personally and musically, is...

King or the Fool Album Review

To be one of the few people on Earth that Kanye West trusts, both personally and musically, is a blessing. Tony Williams (he added The World Famous to distinguish him from legendary jazz drummer Tony Williams) was a key part of creating Kanye’s breakthrough album The College Dropout. From there his pen and voice have appeared on every Yeezy album in the catalog, cementing Williams’ place in hip-hop history, not to mention more than a couple trips to Hawaii for secret recording sessions.

To be one of the few people on Earth that Kanye West trusts, both personally and musically, is a curse. No artist over the last decade casts a longer shadow than Ye, and to stand beside him is to inherently be overshadowed by him. Hell, you can’t even drop your first true album without some reviewer kicking off the review by mentioning your Kanye connection. For a man who hates to be labeled (“…too damn limiting and I don’t let anyone limit me,” Williams said in a Skope interview) the biggest label stuck to his chest in the public’s mind isn’t “soul artist” or “Black artist”, it’s “Kanye’s artist.”

Truly establishing himself as a solo artist while building on the West-related foundation he’s laid down is no easy task, but Williams has fired a hell of an opening shot on The King or the Fool. An album that’s been in the works for literally years – in the meantime he dropped two mixtapes, Finding Dakota Grey and Some of My Best Rappers Are FriendsFool or the King is the work of a man who clearly has his own creative vision. (After all, Kanye doesn’t need another Kanye – he wants Williams in the studio because he brings something new to the table.)

I was about to write “I promise that was the last time Mr. West’s name will come up in this review”….but there’s going to be just two more times. Another You anchors a classically soulful guitar melody over pounding A-Town “hey”s and a lighthearted verse from Ye that quickly gives way to feel good vocals from Williams that somehow manage to mention both geopolitics and romance in the same verse. Yeezy also threw down an instrumental on Dreamin’ of Your Love 2012 and Wake Up Girl, but we really need to move on from the Kanye thing – so instead let’s shift over to more G.O.O.D. Music family with the John Legend-assisted I Know You Missed It. Missed It takes a Hit Boy beat that could have just as easily become a banger and instead embeds it with hints of sorrow and regret, a combination that’s sonically adventurous but not completely effective. And just to round out the heavyweight collaborators list, the always impeccable No I.D. provides Williams and DMV soul supplier Raheem Devaughn with a supremely smooth backdrop to lay down their romantic intentions on Mr. Safety.

Those are the tracks that will grab attention based on name value alone, but the truth is that Williams is an album singer, not a single singer. The man doesn’t have the kind of unique voice that instantly makes people listen (a la Avery Storm), and he almost never breaks down with emotion (a la Anthony Hamilton) or explode into vocal fireworks (a la Keyshia Cole). Instead, The World Famous is simply really good for a really long time, providing a steady stream of well-crafted music throughout King or the Fool, from the more traditionally R&B This Place to the slower piano-ballad title track. He saves his most dynamic performance for album standout The Crown, a globe-trotting track that showcases both the depth of his musical influences and the power he can convey. He may not be a king, at least not yet, but the man’s definitely no fool.

Ultimately The King or the Fool isn’t the album that will truly make The World Famous Tony Williams a household name, but I don’t think that’s his goal here. I think Williams' goal is to show us that there’s a complete artist behind the credits on that Kanye West album liner, and in that sense the album is nothing but a success. And if he just so happens to become a star in his own right? Well, I don’t exactly think he’ll complain.

DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins

Written by
Posted 4 years ago
Get The PLUG app by DJBooth and get the best hip-hop writing and news delivered daily.

Sample Text - Sample Link

More from Tony Williams

Featured Video

Hip Hop News

Blank Face: Rare Album Covers That Don’t Feature the Artist’s Face

For a man with such a big ego, it's incredible that no Kanye West album cover has ever shown his face. Read More
Posted one day ago by Yoh

Mind Blown: Lupe Fiasco’s “Adoration of the Magi” Lyrics Are Genius

I've heard the song 100 times, but I never uncovered the mind-blowing references in the chorus until now. Read More
Posted 2 days ago by Nathan S.

Young Thug’s Modeling a Dress on a Giant NYC Billboard, Anything is Possible

There's currently a four-story NYC billboard of Young Thug modeling for Calvin Klein. That's a real thing that happened in real life. Read More
Posted 2 days ago by William E. Ketchum III

Can PARTYNEXTDOOR’s “P3” Album Break OVO’s Non-Drake Cold Streak?

PARTYNEXTDOOR's new album finally has a release date, but can the project break the year's cold streak of OVO signees? Read More
Posted 2 days ago by William E. Ketchum III

Marvel’s Upcoming Luke Cage Netflix Series Has Major Hip-Hop Influences

Episodes titled after Gang Starr songs, a Biggie portrait and ODB tunes await viewers of the upcoming on-demand series. Read More
Posted 2 days ago by William E. Ketchum III




Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.