"luxury rap: the Hermes of verses,
I write my curses in cursive"
-My favorite line
H.A.M dropped and we were excited/interested/disappointed yet above all we were confused. Where was 'Watch The Throne' going to go? What will the overarching theme be? After the abstract and dark 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy', where will Kanye focus his production?
Tonight, we were blessed with another piece of this puzzle. Well, sort of. As the saying goes, "the more we learn, the less we know". In any manner, I will take you through my thoughts on the album from the clues presented in the song "Otis"
Sorry to disappoint, but I won't make much more than the title, 'Otis'. It refers to Otis Redding, the "King of Soul". And by naming the song "Otis", Kanye is declaring himself the "King of Soul Sampling" or maybe even the "King of Sampling". The record starts out with an old Otis Redding song, and eventually the part that gets sampled starts repeating and transforming into a hip-hop beat. Kanye is arrogantly (Kanye being arrogant... hard to believe) yet very clearly demonstrating how the sample came to be. He is saying to all of us listeners... this is how to sample a song, I will show you. I will even name the song after the original artist so everyone can easily understand. In a sense, Kanye is treating us like children. Image: Kanye with a group of young students teaching them to read... "now sound it out billy...."
In many ways, this beat is the opposite of the now-trending Lex Luger in your face banger. It doesnt clap much, not much heavy bass or big drums. Its simply the sample. Kanye wants us to realize and appreciate the essence of what made him popular and innovative in the first place; His soulful sampling. And where better to do it than on a song with Jay-Z, because Jay was the one who gave Kanye a chance and made him famous.
Way back when ('The Blueprint', 2001), Kanye made a few beats for Jay, namely H to the IZZO (he also made 'Takeover' 'Heart of the City' and my personal favorite on the album, 'Never Change'). These songs infused Jay-Z's talent, business-smarts and popularity with Kanye's rugged soul and artistic culture. In my opinion, this album, and these songs, are what first vaulted Jay into legendary status. The Kanye and Jay tag-team made hip-hop into a whole new monster. This monster has a good foundation with its thick, strong, soulful nature yet still possesses a shiny, mainstream appearance. Think: Roberto Garza's lower body and Sloan (from entourage)'s upper body and face.
So back to 'Otis' and "Watch The Throne". This isnt technically a single and it cannot possibly get that much radio play to hype up the album before its nearing release date. So, the most anticipated project this year will have no real singles or radio play before it abruptly drops August 2nd? Yes. Kanye and Jay certainly don't need any superficial hype. More importantly, they don't want it. This album will not be about money, fame, critics or radio play. It will be a gritty and at times arrogant display of what makes Kanye and Jay so great. And if they do a good job at it, the album should loft them even higher into the realms of hip-hop legends.
Or, they are making whatever makes them happy and I'm thinking too much into it. Maybe if I were to ask Kanye why he made this album he would take a few minutes to think. He'd then do his famous Kanye Shrug and yell, "cuz I can BITCHHHHH".
Monday, July 18, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Wayne is the undisputed King of the mixtape. He took time off after the critically acclaimed "Tha Carter II" to change the game, and the medium was an array of innovative pilot mixtapes with crazy flows and interesting wordplay. In my humble opinion he revived hip-hop (after Nas prematurely pronounced it dead) and created so much buzz that he sold over 1 million copies in his debut week of "Tha Carter III"... which is unheard of in today's age.
So, fittingly, Wayne drops off this tape with "Tha Carter IV" on deck Aug.29. Is he still the King? Does it compare to Da Drought 3 or any of the Dedication series? Let me first unequivocally exclaim, No, on all accounts.
In loose terms, the mixtape is a poorman's No Ceilings. He raps exclusively over popular beats as if he drunkedly and highedly and codeine syrupedly closed his eyes and played pin the tail on the billboard top 25. He keeps his flows similar to the original artists' and honestly doesn't do them justice in most cases. What made this acceptable on No Ceilings was the punchlines and delivery that no one in the rap game could come close to touching. I didnt expect a whole lot from this mixtape or any (except for J.Cole), but at least I assumed Wayne would kill the lyrics. He doesn't. At his worst: "my house is a hoe house" "drink like a goldfish" "kidnap the baby and the babysitter" "flag red like bruises" and the countless amount of times he mentions he is the dope dealer.
There are definitely bright spots, namely 'Sure Thing' where he takes a heavy r&b ballad from Miguel and transforms it into a catchy, emotional song. My favorite song on the tape is its title track, where he raps over the now-famous Adele - Rolling in the Deep. Rapping over this beat was a great choice; the song is very powerful and catchy, yet doesnt appeal to rap due to it's female country vocals. The song builds and Wayne follows the beat getting energetic and fast-paced. I think this song also is his best lyrically ("this shit is magic, Stan Van Gundy" "hard like cialis").
With the bright spots, Wayne proves he is still partially Wayne, yet has he fallen off? He has recently said that he himself doesn't believe he is 'the best rapper alive' anymore. He also said that he might retire very soon.... Is his passion (which made him so great) gone? "Dear Anne" brought a refreshing perspective to an eerily catchy Swizz Beatz production. Still this song won't be on the album because he said it was out-dated. Personally, I think Wayne is trying to re-invent himself with many new hungry artists on their way. He needs to figure out where he wants to go. I dont know if Wayne can keep up lyrically with Cole and Drake, or creativly with Kanye and B.o.B. He needs to tap into his quirky, gangsta insanity swagger and put it together for "Tha Carter IV". His fans span all ages and genres, so expectations are high.
I love Wayne and appreciate how much he has added to hip-hop. It would be a shame for him to create a trend after a sub-par release of "Sorry 4 The Wait".
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Heard this song out in LA the other night.. Callin all rhymesayers, someone spit over this beat.