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Kanye West and Jay Z's Watch The Throne: Ego-Mania Or Hip-Pop Heaven?

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?

We are considerably richer than you.

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.

Good.

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:

May
20 London O2 Arena
24 Zurich Hellenstadion
26 Herning Arena
28 Oslo Telenor Arena
29 Stockholm The Globe

June
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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image descriptionCOMMENTS

@Adam_B_Richards 10:11 am, 14-Aug-2011

Can't believe you both missed Aziz Ansari's appearance at 2.35! This video is balls-out great.

Joe Citizen 10:54 am, 14-Aug-2011

I certainly do agree with some of your points but strongly protest others. It is in fact a hip-hop video, which by definition is exactly what they have portrayed. The unnecessary and sometimes vulgarity are what their niche market appreciate. Although it must be said that they have done this very well.

Ed 11:09 am, 14-Aug-2011

Jay-Z has often been criticised within hip hop for not using his undeniable lyrical skills to speak for the disenfranchised youth, like Nas does or 2pac did on occasion. Kanye, to me, is the more political of the two and possibly the more disliked; ever since he gave Taylor Swift her day in the spotlight. The video smacks of narcissism, especially when you bare in mind that the majority of their fans can barely afford to buy their album let alone cut a quarter of a million pound car up. The song itself? Nothing new, no groundbreaking punchlines or hip hop quotables.

JR 11:28 am, 14-Aug-2011

the car is being auctioned off for charity, which is actually mentioned at the end of the video.

Ed 11:35 am, 14-Aug-2011

Admittedly I stopped paying attention by the end but do recollect reading that online yesterday. I just think, after Nas & my Damien Marley's "Distant Relatives" album, these guys could have come a bit better. Not the same, but put out something hotter than they have.

Neil 4:20 pm, 14-Aug-2011

I've never seen (or heard for that matter) the attraction of J-zed and this video does nothing to make me change my mind.

SteveB 7:02 pm, 14-Aug-2011

Fortunately I have the original, which I shall play now to get this nonsense out of my mind

jojo 7:38 pm, 14-Aug-2011

Nas&Damien Marley's album was a failure...watch the throne is better

Ed 8:20 pm, 14-Aug-2011

jojo Please define how it was a failure, please? I am intrigued to hear your reasoning.

Edit Article 1:19 am, 15-Aug-2011

Jigga not jigger. HOV has never been referred to as jigger. It is Jigga, Jay-Z, former CEO of the ROC or founder of ROC Nation. Thank You.

Baystrong 3:25 am, 15-Aug-2011

All of yall need to stop hating jigga and yeh just rapping what they know about which is the finer things in life which none of your will ever understand. Farther-more they paid there dues to the game end and earned the right to talk shit. let me see your dude come up with some hot hip hop soulful music until then shut the fuck up and listen better yet get a life Baystrong

Ed 8:59 am, 15-Aug-2011

Why does the disliking of an artists material have to be equated to hating the artist as a person? And what is Soulful about the song other than the sample?

Flani 12:03 pm, 15-Aug-2011

I loved the video. It is, to me, one of the best hip-hop videos because it's simple yet, sophisticated. It's one thing to brag about owning a Maybach and another thing entirely, to brag about destroying one in style.

yogsy 7:13 pm, 15-Aug-2011

JAYZ just a puppet for the Freeemasons.. A sellout african American working for the otherside

Dunc 1:24 am, 16-Aug-2011

Good song if you don't take it too seriously, like a lot of the more recent Jay-Z stuff, the phenomenal production makes up for the pretty inter-changeable lyrics, same with D.O.A, On To The Next One etcc

Kenny Senior 3:04 pm, 19-Aug-2011

I'm just having real trouble working out the component split HOV and Yeezy make up of the male genitalia ........well done boys, what 24ct gold rags to riches stories you both have.......now your just taking the piss.......or better still and big steamy turd.......this is also a pretty lazy sample flip....if you want to see Otis Redding done justice watch the Commitments....now that's some real soulful shit..........Ok so Jay Z pulls rank and makes up the balls and shaft, Kanye is the big, shiny dick head!

Kenny Senior 3:08 pm, 19-Aug-2011

@ Baystrong - Seeing as you lamely protect these guys( in very bad english I may add) you can be the foreskin, your words, the collection of cheesy nob discharge!

MEE! 1:53 pm, 9-Sep-2011

The song and lyrics are fun, Just fun. Can't take a "brag" song seriously especially with the extensive(NOT) vocabulary of Jay Z. I won't purchase Kanye albums because he's an obnoxious brat. I wont buy Jay Z albums because he is an OVER RATED rapper. Still I'll listen, sing, dance, and have fun while doing it. If I want rap with substance I'd definately reach for NAS.

Jake Hanrahan 7:46 pm, 23-Nov-2011

OTIS - Only The Illuminati Succeed

GB 2:17 pm, 21-Feb-2012

these two have to be the most ridiculously overrated 'artists' out there. Neither can sing! they are tone deaf! why does everyone ignore that?! If Jay-Z shat in a bowl, every media platform would be amazed at his talent, astonished at his 'innovation', every other artist would be trying to be the first to sniff his crack afterwards. And why does anyone even tolerate Kanye? Countless interviews with other people have revealed he is a TOTAL douche. Unfortunately, due to radio indoctrination - Jay-Z etc. can afford to have their latest bowel movements played incessantly on all radio/tv shows enough that people who have no clue, think it must be amazing because its everywhere. If anyone else had released Otis, it would have been derided as utter shite - but ot was only praised because it was Jay-Z, despite it being an unneccessary butchering of a wonderful song

Melanie 2:41 am, 22-Feb-2012

The sample is without doubt the best thing about this dross. Is JZ really lip syncing to Otis at the beginning? Dream on sunshine! That's the closest to real talent and innovation he'll ever get.

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