[This is, of course, not another G.O.O.D. Friday cut, and therefore not another review of a GF cut, but I already had this heading and all, so deal with it.]
Kanye West is half a year removed from downright dominating Twitter with his weekly leaks, but he’s a spotlight fiend. Before we could entirely come down from all the critical hysteria over West’s fifth magnum opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (a title that still sounds like he stole it from Panic! At the Disco), we were already hearing rumbles about an EP or album-length collaberation with Yeezy’s boss, mentor, and “big brother,” Jay-Z.
In concept, one of the best and most sought-after producers alive, Kanye West, working with one of rap’s few living legends, Jay-Z, is at least interesting, if it doesn’t make you get all goose-pimply or have your neck hairs at attention. And both big and little brothers seem to know they may have lightning in a bottle cause they’ve named this album-length partnership Watch the Throne. However, in execution, I’m reminded of two very important things after two leaks: Kanye West has never been a great rapper and Jay-Z’s last great verse was probably on The Black Album (maybe American Gangster?).
Now it should be mentioned that the first leak, the horribly titled and seriously gaudy “H.A.M.,” has been relegated to “bonus track limbo” when all of this finally sees light of day–quite a dodge, if you ask me, it’ll still be on the album even if doesn’t get a track number or whatever.
Gripes about label/album politics aside, the latest leak is a huge step up from its predecessor.  “Otis,” though it may have an unimaginative title, has a sweet-ass beat. West slaughtered a sacred cow in Otis Redding’s seminal “Try a Little Tenderness,” and served up a truly imaginative base for some truly banal rhymes. All of the early reports about the tracklisting actually listed Otis Redding as a featured performer on this track, and, truth be told, it feels that way. The Stax backing band from the original song is left in for stabs and dramatic flourish for the chorus, most of what Yeezy highlights and loops is a five syllable stutter from Redding. It feels more like Otis rose from the dead to beat box just for this track. It’s as though a full collaboration weren’t enough for West, he had to resurrect a soul music deity to be the pair’s hype man; and it’s straight up bonkers. However, Otis is really the only thing about “Otis” that works. As I hinted at above, West is fine and Jay-Z done got old. It’s times like this I thank whatever power in the universe there is for mixtapes. Everybody, cross your fingers and hope for some actual MCs to get a hold of this beat and do more than inflate their bloated legacies.
I’m still holding out hope for Watch the Thrones though, because as much as I rag on Hova and Yeezy for their micsmanship, “Otis” has a dope-ass beat from a legendary producer. Plus, the album’s rumored to have guest verses or hooks from Frank Ocean–who’s actually attached to two tracks–and Beyonce, so we’re bound to have some sweet melodies to hum at the very least.
But seriously, you can, nay you should, sneak a peek at “Otis” on Jay-Z’s website here.