As birthday presents go, getting a guest spot on a Jay-Z track has to be one of the most exclusive. Of course, when your dad is the Hova himself, you’re going to expect something pretty special. With this tribute to his newly born daughter, Jay-Z has set the bar fairly high.
With a legitimate claim to being the world’s most famous baby, Blue Ivy Carter can undoubtedly look forward to a life simply overflowing with swag. Dad’s already staged an elaborate themed party to commemorate her birth at his 40/40 Club in New York, where guests were reportedly treated to a golden champagne tower and buffalo wings with ‘Blue Ivy’ cheese sauce. Which is nice. But given Jay-Z’s well-documented taste for bling and braggadocio, ‘Glory’ is a surprisingly heartfelt celebration of the joys of fatherhood.
There’s little doubt that the new arrival has turned his world upside down: “The most amazing feeling I feel/Words can’t describe what I’m feeling for real/Baby I paint the sky blue/My greatest creation was you..” Awww. It’s enough to put a lump in the throat of even of even the flintiest cynic. At the very least, it’s a far cry from “99 problems but a bitch ain’t one.”
Blue Ivy herself makes an appearance towards the end of the track. Her vocal contribution could probably use some autotune, but there’s plenty of time to work on that. A final fact that might be a little upsetting to aspiring singers out there: the tot’s performance has resulted in her being the youngest ever artist to make the Billboard Top 100. All this before she’s even a month old. It makes you wonder what mum and dad are going to come up with for her first birthday.
When two of the world’s biggest selling artists announce that they have created an album together, it’s only right that one of the world’s top directors is drafted in to create the video. ‘Otis’ is the first single from Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collaboration album, ‘Watch The Throne’, and legendary filmmaker Spike Jonze has directed the video.
A world away from the low-budget look of Jonze’s famed work on the Fatboy Slim’s ‘Praise You’ video, ‘Otis’ oozes money. The track, which heavily samples Otis Redding’s ‘Try A Little Tenderness’, is playing over the opening long shot of a pristine Maybach. Jay Z and Kanye approach the car carrying heavy-duty tools and a team begins to pull the Maybach apart as Jay Z and Kanye West rap against the backdrop of a huge American flag. Once the Maybach is sufficiently destroyed, Jay Z and Kanye jump in for a ride, accompanied by four beautiful women and lashings of bling.
Spike Jonze’s slick camera work captures the thrill of riding around in a Maybach with no doors and his ability to get up-close and personal with the rap stars makes for thoroughly entertaining viewing. The video for ‘Otis’ is the ultimate in the American Dream and the red, white and blue color scheme runs through everything from the clear sky to the laces in Jay Z’s sneakers.
The message is simple here: the American Dream is attainable and it’s nothing but girls, money and fun, but until you get there enjoy watching us having a ball.
Proving that it’s important to give back when you’re raking in the dollars, Jay Z and Kanye West are putting the destroyed Maybach from the video up for auction to raise money for the East African Drought Disaster. Check out the video here.
News that Jay-Z and Kanye West were to collaborate on a full-length release, titled ‘Watch The Throne’, was greeted with understandably absurd levels of excitement. To be fair, it’s hard to overstate the significance of this team up. It’s not just about rap; these are two of the biggest names in music. Between them, they’ve racked up more Grammys and hit records than you could comfortably count. In terms of sheer star power, it’s like having Spider-Man and Batman in the same movie.
Throughout its creation, the record has been shrouded in mystery. Recording sessions took place in New York, Paris, Australia and Los Angeles, whenever the two protagonists’ busy schedules allowed. Early previews were extremely exclusive, Jay-Z himself gathering a handful of journalists in a New York hotel room and playing the tracks from his laptop. So it’s no surprise that this early salvo from ‘Watch The Throne’ is causing such a massive stir.
The track teases a sample of Otis Redding’s ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ into unfamiliar shapes, creating a decidedly unusual canvas for the duo’s lyrics to be splattered over. It’s playful and inventive, just as you’d expect from two artists who have always balanced mainstream appeal with innovation.
While ‘Watch The Throne’ features collaborations with artists like Beyonce, Pharrell Williams and Q-Tip, ‘Otis’ is very much a Jay-Z/Kanye joint. The duo trade rhymes with customary style, covering everything from their latest bling to smoking Cuban cigars with Fidel Castro. ‘Watch The Throne’ is going to be one of the biggest records of the year and ‘Otis’ makes for an excellent preview.
Since she was announced as Glastonbury’s main stage headliner it’s been assumed Beyoncé will need a few tricks up her sleeve to pull off a successful show – after all, the crowd of Glasto’s main stage are stereotypically more used to the grunt of beardy guitar bands than wailing divas. With this in mind, ‘Run The World (Girls)’ could well have been made with the specific aim of getting a huge festival crowd on their feet.
Stealing the backing from Major Lazer’s ‘Pon De Floor’ – a dance track that’s enjoyed huge crossover success with both urban and electro crowds – ‘Run The World (Girls)’ is a whirring ball of wonky energy guaranteed to stand out in amongst Beyoncé’s usually smooth R&B stylings. The producer behind the track is in fact Afrojack: a hugely popular dance DJ who has already worked his magic with Black Eyed Peas and knows a thing or two about banging out festival tents. Strikingly, ‘Run The World (Girls)’ seems to be quite a departure for the former Destiny’s Child singer and could signal a move into more OTT club based sounds. A cameo performance from her husband, Jay-Z, will likely get the crowds going more – but this single is also likely to be one of the highlights from B’s Pyramid stage performance.
Beyoncé’s fourth studio album is due for release in June.
Despite only recently releasing his last album at the tail end of 2010, KanYe West is already moving onto his next project; his much hyped joint album with Jay-Z. The first track to surface from the collaboration is ‘H.A.M’ which debuted on the pair’s Facebook page yesterday. Opening with a futuristic looped synth line, West takes the mantle first revealing that ‘H.A.M’ isn’t actually a nod to the eccentric rapper’s favourite sandwich meat, but in fact an acronym for “hard as a motherf**ker”.
It appears that neither rapper wants to take the back seat, with Jay-Z holding up his side of the arrangement by delivering a blisteringly fast verse. Bringing together two of the biggest names in the game was always going to result in something like this, buckets of swagger over a huge production by Lex Luger.
The track is taken from the album ‘Watch The Throne’ which is due for release on March 1st. Providing the album turns out to be better than ‘Best Of Both Worlds’ – the much maligned 2002 collaborative album from Jay-Z and R. Kelly – Kanye and Jay-Z’s hook up is likely to be one of the most exciting of the year.
To hear ‘H.A.M’ head to the Watch The Throne Facebook page.
Eminem’s resurgence continues with his latest track ‘Syllables’, a brand new record that riles against the weak lyrics of modern hip hop. Featuring guest verses from old hands Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre as well as Stat Quo and Cashis – both signed to Eminem’s Shady Records – ‘Syllables’ opens with Eminem stating that “It’s not about lyrics anymore, it’s about a hot beat and a catchy hook.”
Verses from Em, Jay-Z and Dre all come across a little “it was better back in my day” – and perhaps it was – bemoaning the youth’s love of 808 claps and catchy choruses. Ironically, it’s Eminem’s own tongue in cheek 808 filled sing-along chorus is probably the thing most people will remember about the track.
It may seem a bit rich that Eminem has suddenly riled against club friendly hip hop; after all some of his biggest hits have been filled with daft choruses. But as usual Em’s sense of humour and deft wordplay help him box his way out of any corners he gets himself into.
Pre-empting another potential album from Eminem and the much awaited comeback of Dr. Dre in 2011, ‘Syllables’ is due for release in the coming weeks.
The only artist to claim two tracks in our countdown of the year, ‘Monster’ is another highlight from KanYe West’s staggering ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’. On this track Yeezy enlists the help of some of hip hop’s most powerful illuminate, with Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj all contributing verses. Surprisingly Bon Iver also lends his vocal to the track; the unlikely pair became friends after West was introduced to the folk troubadour’s track ‘Woods’ by Ed Banger boss Pedro Winter. Despite the plethora of talent on display, the tracks finest moment belongs to Nicki Minaj. The fast rising female rapper’s schizophrenic bars completely steal the show; giving us enough reason to see past her lacklustre debut album ‘Pink Friday’ - let’s just hope KanYe is free to produce her follow up LP.
After West’s infamous stage invasion at the VMA’s, where he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, there was only one way KanYe could win back his credibility. Despite inspiring one of the most amusing blogs of the year, West simply had to deliver the goods in order to put the episode behind him. Thankfully his fifth album stands up as one of the strongest of 2010, topping polls from such tastemakers as Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Spin, Stereogum and MTV. The video for the track is set to debut on Christmas day and certainly looks likely to live up to the ‘Monster’ title. Check out the ghoul filled preview above.
Jay Electronica may not be a name you are aware of, but if you love your hip-hop, it’s pretty safe to say that ‘Exhibit C’ was possibly the biggest hip-hop track in 2009 and Jay Electronica declared himself to have one of the best rap deliveries in the game.
Having not released anything commercially since December ‘09, Jay has been busy working on new tracks and negotiating label deals; all while raising his daughter with soul singer sensation Erykah Badu. Since Jay Electronica’s first performance in London earlier this year, the hip-hop following was expecting an album to follow his tour. After numerous speculations, nothing was released. Fast forward to November 2010 and an album deal has finally been confirmed.
Megastar and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z has snapped up Jay Electronica right under P-Diddy’s nose. The hotly tipped rapper was originally planned to sign to Diddy’s label Bad Boy Records, after spending the past year writing music together. But last week Jay-Z announced on stage at The Box club in New York that Jay Electronica would be the latest signee to his label, Roc Nation. This sparked Diddy to post some cryptic tweets which sent hip-hop heads craving for answers. It seemed Diddy was feeling betrayed by the ordeal saying “Damn it hurts in a whole other way when someone you felt and I mean really felt was your Friend”, however Diddy later explained the comment wasn’t about the signing and was happy for the pair. Look out for the fruits of this new working relationship in 2011.