The first Kanye West and Jay-Z collab from the upcoming Watch the Throne was “H•A•M,” a garishly operatic thug-crunk banger that paired the rappers with producer-of-the-moment, Lex Luger. While the track was mostly successful (largely due to Lex Luger’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink production style), it seemed like Jay and Kanye were reaching a little bit. For whatever reason, “H•A•M” didn’t exactly feel comfortable. “Otis,” the second single from Watch the Throne is a complete 180. Instead of the Wagnerian Flocka-isms of “H•A•M,” “Otis” is built on a looped and chopped sample of the Otis Redding classic “Try a Little Tenderness.” Rather than letting Redding’s voice flow smoothly, Kanye has grabbed only a snippet of the song, leaving a stuttering Redding surrounded by empty space and jagged edges. The sparse production allows Jay-Z and Kanye West’s flows a lot of breathing room; they feel loose and laid-back rather than overwhelmed by bombast. Couplets like “Photoshoot fresh, looking like wealth / I’m ‘bout to call the paparazzi on myself” (Jay-Z) are witty enough that non-puns like Kanye West’s “They aint’ see me cause I pulled up in my Benz / Last week I was in my other other Benz” don’t take much from the vibe. The result is as loose and fresh as a project from two of the world’s best rappers (and friends!) could possibly be. Now let’s hear the rest of the album.
Jay-Z & Kanye West—Watch the Throne