"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".