Wednesday 10 August 2011

Jay-Z & Kanye West - Otis

In light of the recent riots sweeping across the UK, The Mirror has decided to blame "the pernicious culture of hatred around rap music" for the violence that's occured.  Of course, this is sensationalist trite.  But is it mere coincidence that 'Watch The Throne', the collaboration from Jay-Z and Kanye West, is set to be the number one album this week?

The last time these guys got together, it resulted in the number one single Run This Town with Rihanna.  Admittedly, after recent days, the line "Life's a game but it's not fair / I break the rules so I don't care" may ring alarm bells, but it's also easily misconstrued.  If anything, rap music is a comment on gang culture, not a catalyst.

And let's not forget the musical worth.  With Otis, J & K have opted to sample one of the musical greats - Otis Redding.  The sample of Try A Little Tenderness forms the basis for the whole track and is perhaps a subtle message to all those "haters" out there.  Indeed, with lines like "Driving Benzes, wit’ no benefits / Not bad huh? For some immigrants", it inspires a hardworking rise to fame that criminals ignore.  The original song is here totally transformed, the production simple and punchy.  The different styles of the two rappers blend well together and can be seen on the rest of 'Watch The Throne'.  It contains a number of further collaborations, inlcuding Mr Hudson, Frank Ocean and Beyonce, each artist bringing their own swagger to a melting pot of hip-hop.  Otis isn't the best track though - check out Made In America and No Church In The Wild (what a bassline...). 

As a final thought, remember that music is an art form.  Art has always been controversial throughout the ages and artists are entitled to artistic freedom.  So don't blame music for the atrocities that have befallen us.