Kanye West and Jay-Z have just confirmed they will perform a short string of UK shows from May 20 under the title Watch The Throne. But are these guys hip-hop heavyweights or just a couple of arrogant ego-driven arses?
In these days of austerity is it insensitive of millionaires Jay Z and Kanye West to rap about how rich or is it all a bit of harmless fun?
We put it to a couple of saboteurs…
THE CASE FOR HIP-POP HEAVEN
By Sifaeli Tesha
You know what they say, ‘If you’ve got it flaunt it’. With their single from the collaborative album Watch The Throne Jay Z and Kanye West have turned the old adage into a music video with lyrics. And I for one am all for it.
There’s plenty of room in hip hop for grown men to spit bragadocious rhymes about how they’re better travelled, have more money and access to prettier women than the rest of us, as long as it’s done well. And these two are probably the best at it that the main stream has to offer.
The bragging kicks in before the track even starts. In calling Watch The Throne’s second single ‘Otis’ Jay Z and Kanye West are giving a non too subtle reminder to the also rans that you need excellent connections and deep pockets to get hold of an Otis Redding sample, especially for a track as famous as Try A Little Tenderness. Chuck in Spike Jonze to direct the video and it’s a huge middle finger to the other so called heavyweights claiming to run the music industry.
But it’s not just the fact Jigga and The Gay Fish have metaphorically got their balls out and said ‘whut’ that makes me like the single. Say what you want about Kanye West but he knows how to make a beat. The production on Otis elevates it above the hip pop I struggle to listen to. There’s no discernable hook and no catchy sing-a-long chorus just the words of the late great Otis Redding chopped up over a neck-snapping beat. It sounds more reminiscent of Kanye’s output on The College Drop Out and allows the rappers to speak their tales of the privileged life in as entertaining a way possible. And if you’ve got a problem with the lyrics Hov and Yeezy ain’t lying. They’re rapping a true representation of their lives; you can’t say they aren’t ‘keeping it real’.
Otis may be short on social message and high on escapism but remember these fellas aren’t politicians they just know how to rap. And they do it better than most so why not just sit back and enjoy it for what it is. Simply a tune to smile and nod your head.
THE CASE FOR EGO-MANIA
By Owen Blackhurst
There are quite a few reasons that I could like this song, Jay-Z is always listenable and, even if I think Kanye West is a tosser of the highest repute, he is undeniably talented. However I was asked for my first opinion of the song and even after repeated listens that feeling still remains, a mix of anger, disgust and outright hatred. ‘Sounds kind of soulful, don’t it..’ says Jigger right at the beginning. Yes Jay,it does, right up until the moment where you interrupt Otis with that banal statement and then follow it up with the frankly baffling statement that ‘seems I’ve got my swagger back’.
And that is the biggest problem.
How the fuck has Jay-Z ever lost his fucking swagger. A multi-millionaire who can do pretty much whatever he wants whenever he feels like it, a man who, every night of the week unless she’s washing her hair, can peel the skintight knickers off Beyonce’s rump and take at it with the naked frenzy of a weasel that has inadvertently snaffled a bag of PCP with his turnip ends. A rapper who has never walked without a swaggering affectation. Lost his swagger has he? Poor diddums, what happened, did Kanye refuse a game of soggy biscuit?
Then there is the video itself, a celebration of the fact that this pair of tools have so much more money than anyone else that they can ruin a Maybach and then cart a load of swimwear models around in the back. Nothing new in the world of Hip-Pop, but with a song this annoying it grates more than ever.
Ah yes, the song. There’s one bit, where Kanye screams, that threatens to be ace if Otis kicks in. Does he? Does he bollocks. The hook is halted before the great man arrives as a king pair of narcissists go through the moneymaking motions.
As Sifaeli rightly points out, the song bounces along to a neck snapping beat. From where I’m sitting, that beat hasn’t lived up to it’s reputation and inflicted injury.
And now, people of the jury, we ask you to have your say below.
Kanye West / Jay-Z are set to play the following shows:
20 London O2 Arena
24 Zurich Hellenstadion
26 Herning Arena
28 Oslo Telenor Arena
29 Stockholm The Globe
1 Paris Bercy
2 Paris Bercy
3 Antwerp Sportpaleis
5 Frankfurt Festhalle
8 Dublin O2 Arena
11 Manchester Arena
13 Birmingham LG Arena
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