Around midnight last night, the long-awaited single by Jay-Z and Kanye West, “H.A.M.,” hit the Internets.
Roughly three minutes later the song broke the Internets, with everybody rushing to their favorite website and social networking medium to download, listen and critique the song.
Roughly two minutes after that the sea levels receded, and the supposed “musical natural disaster” never came to fruition, as the general consensus was more mixed than ecstatic.
Is the song awful? Not really, but it is a bit underwhelming and a letdown for most people who secretly believed that, if done correctly, this album would arguably be the first “classic” album in years (we’re just gonna ignore those ratings The Source have been tossing out left and right for now). I’m not expecting some Best Of Both Worlds level of catastrophe with Watch The Throne, especially with Kanye claiming that Madlib, Pete Rock and Q-Tip were providing aural backdrops for the project a while back. I certainly wasn’t expecting such a heavy Rick Ross influence on the first single, however.
Which begs the question: what is it, exactly, with hip hop’s interest in Rick Ross? I’m not going to sit here and shit on him like I used to back when I used to work for the good ship Amistad, as I’m actually a fan of the guy’s music. At the very least I will admit that the guy – or is it one of his weed carriers? – possesses a relatively considerable ear for picking beats, which in turn makes for some great (no, seriously) music. Some of his more understated cuts, like the Kanye-assisted “Live Fast, Die Young,” are aurally anthemic. One could only wish that *insert your favorite, lyrically dense but fiscally deficient rapster here* had his budget.
At the same time, I’m not going to ignore Rick’s obvious shortcomings as a monotonous rapper with bars containing limited subject matter masked by overpoweringly celestial instrumentals, a true “studio artist” manufactured by his label’s publicity and promotional teams as a fraudulent, former drug kingpin who decided give it all up and to turn to rap music to make a living. And that was before the correctional officer past was made prevalent. But we still eat that shit up.
Why, exactly? I don’t know, really. But this contradictory dilemma hasn’t stopped me from playing “MC Hammer” at parties.
Let’s be honest: we’re all going to obtain a copy of Jay and Ye’s Watch The Throne when it drops, whether we get it via iTunes, at the local Best Buy, on a preferred message board’s download link or off some random African’s quilt on the corner of 125th and St. Nicholas. But for Jay and ‘Ye’s sake, let’s see a little bit less Rick Ross in their collaborative efforts. Hell, Kanye should start using those beats he said he would keep for himself. If I wanted to hear an album full of repetitive, bass-heavy, riot-inducing instrumentals I would have actually kept that Juicy J x Lex Luger mixtape on my computer.