How did these two master minds ever come up with the idea of collaborating. Genius. Absolutely Genius. I am genuinely surprised that the egos of these two artists managed to withstand each other. I thought it could have been a recipe for disaster, but it turn out I am A FOOL who knows nothing.
The overall content of the album is loyal to both artists, full of catchy anthems, well penned lyrics and fantastic musicianship. The fusion of samples from artists such as Otis Redding, Mr Hudson, Will Ferrell (believe it!), James Brown, Quincey Jones, Cassius (an electronic Indie band), Flux Pavillion alongside a complete break down of Nina Simone's 'Feeling Good' in addition to the mashing of Jay-Z and Kanye's music together is on a very advanced level of music. Not only does the duo remain true to the roots of black music in musicianship and lyrical content but its also made appealing on a worldwide level for music lovers of Motown, Hip Hop, Rap, Pop and Dubstep.
Track by track in a 'quickie';
No Church in the Wild: Leans towards more Kanye's Instrumentation and 808 feel. Philosophical. Observational and with a brilliantly, bouncy bass line and intense strings.
Lift Off (feat. Beyonce): WELL OF COURSE BEYONCE FEATURES! WHY EVER NOT?! It's catchy, up beat and has a catchy vocal line that I eagerly anticipate from the very beginning of the intro. Perhaps Kanye should have stayed off the longer phrased vocals and stuck to rapping.
Ni**as in Paris: No idea what this track is about, but it's fun, brilliant pieced together with samples and easy to listen to (despite some of it's offensive lyrics). The sparseness of the instruments and orchestration is developed well throughout the track. The break down at the end is heroic. Reminds me off something from Plastic Beach by Gorillaz.
Otis (feat Otis Redding): The first single off the album. A delight to listen to. Brilliant use of loops, samples, brass and lyrics. Arrogance is what the two boys do best here "I made Jesus walks I'm never going to hell" and they do it in a typically expensive format.
Gotta Have It: Heavier use of hip hop backing vocals and more of Jay-Z feel here.
New Day: The inclusion here of a spookily adapted Felling good by Nina Simone is brilliant. Not only does it add a hugely ironic and goosepimply feel to the track throughout, but it it's such a melancholy version that it really turns an originally positive track to something utterly different. The lyrics in this track are ones that I shut up and listen to each and every time. Jay-Z expresses his emotions with nothing to hide.
Thats my Bitch: "Bumpin'" would be pretty accurate. Catchy and a good use of bass themes and release of melodies-especially on the vocals in the chorus.
Welcome to the Jungle: A song I feel I should be cautious with. The worrying brass and the repetitive keys are cause for emotional concern and worry. I think the instrumentation here is brilliantly reflective and combined with the majority if Jay's voice over Kanye's which I feel can be more sincere at times.
Who Gon Stop Me: A Dubstep tune in a hip hop album? A sure winner. And it is. A brilliant use of the sample. Kanye here belongs in his element. The 808-treated Kanye vocals work excellently, whilst the breakdown two and a bit minutes in work superbly in this heavier track.
Murder to Excellence: A track that demands to be listened to. Written about black on black violence with brilliant lyrics, it's hard hitting and Kanye's vocal is his best so far on the album.
Made in America (feat. Frank Ocean): A surprisingly chilled out track. The smooth vocals of Frank Ocean is refreshing this far into the album. Meanwhile, the content is ironic, a sociological observation and is reflective at the same time.
Why I Love You (feat Mr Hudson and The Library): A noisy second single. But one that demands attention, addiction and is necessarily so, ear catching. A protective and protesting single that I hope everyone takes the time to genuinely listen to instead of becoming distracted by the catchiness of the chorus.
H.A.M: The pimpest track. Ostentatious and pretentious (only because a choir is used I suppose) but at points it can be just a bit too much. And I don't have a pimp car to blast it out of... just a Ford Focus.
Primetime: A chromatic piano riff highlights the distress that is evident in this song. A good use of looping, but the track doesn't feel like it's moving anywhere. Perhaps its not meant to....
The Joy (feat. Curtis Mayfield): A slightly odd one to end the deluxe album on. Perhaps the two artists wanted to finish on some sort of avant garde jazz like hip hop, smooth track that zoned out after the exhaustive listening of the whole album. Contains some highly sexually charged vocals and smooth samples from Curtis. Very little going on in relation to the instrumentation and development until the end where a sleepy- jazz like improvisation comes over the keys player and helps diffuse the entire ending of the track.
There we have definitely one of my favourite albums of last year. If you haven't already, GET INVOLVED.