First and foremost I’d like to thank my connect for the smoothest entry I’ve ever had for these type of events, even with all the organized chaos. I wasn’t on a list and got walked in by..well, let’s just say I got people in high places like Jesus niece. Second, let me pre-face by also saying I spent the afternoon into the evening prior to the session, in the company of 88-Keys listening to EVERYTHING,..except No Church In The Wild. All which were equally, if not more crazier than No Church, but that’s a different rant/review for a different post. Let’s get to the main event:
No Church In The Wild – sets the tone in a way so compelling that you know this album is going to deliver some level of greatness. The beat itself is somewhat in the same vein as “Novacane”, on steroids. 88-Keys definitely earned top 4 placements with this one. Lyrically it was promising as well with Yeezy kickin a hilarious bar along the lines of “Coc on black skin got her striped like a zebra, now that’s that jungle fever” but the chorus was like “what’s a King to a God, what’s a God to a non believer”.
Lift Off – This a big and powerful record, sound wise. The beat is going to take your ears somewhere you didn’t expect to go, the name is aptly chosen here. Beyonce erupted with some of the best vocals I’ve heard from her. While I didn’t enjoy “4” as much as her previous work, I’d have to be a hater to say she didn’t make this joint hot.
Niggas In Paris – Hit-Boy knocked this one out the park, and The Throne laid down mean verses. Sonically, the track itself stands out with the drums and other sounds blended in.
Otis – Sounds like interlude rap in comparison to the other records, both lyrically and the beat, while the Otis Redding sampled is flattering and refreshing, once you get passed this the album picks up again. One point that got across clear is that, if you mess with his little brother, there’s a good chance Hov
‘s bodyguards might murk ya.
Gotta Have It – The beat vocal sample is weird but it works, once it drops the bass hits. “I’m plankin’ on a Million” – Hov
New Day – This is where the introspective and thought provoking side of the lyrical content starts to rear it’s head. You hear Kanye and Jay talking to unborn heir’s of The Throne. While the concept isn’t ground breaking, the words and emotion put into this make it undeniable. “I’ll never let my son have a ego, I’ll make sure he act nice wherever we go..maybe even make him be a Republican…cause he loves white people” – Kanye, with Jay closing out reflecting on not having a father around; “My dad left me and I promised never to repeat em (never repeat em, never repeat em, never repeat em)” – Hov
That’s My Bitch – Dope record, the way this was revamped in comparison to the leaked shell version of it, deserves an applause. Nothing dramatic but the full completed record will please the fans who were in limbo as to whether or not this would make the cut. Hov added some bars before he gets to “back to my Beyonce’s” or at least changed some words. Kanye’s mumbling are now words (“pop champagne, i’ll give you a sip”) and Justin Vernon adds a nice touch.
Welcome To The Jungle – An easy contender for the #1 or #2 spot as far as production goes. Swizz Beatz must have been saving this enclosed behind a “in case of emergency, break glass” window. Hov destroyed this in my opinion, by being so vulnerable in his verse, add to the fact the flow was flawless. He begins his self diatribe as the “Black Axel Rose”. From there it get crazy and you feel the pain conveyed in every line.
“My uncle died, my daddy did too, paralyzed from the pain, I can barely move. My nephew gone, my heart is torn. Sometimes I look to the sky, ask why I was born”
“Rest In Peace to the leader of the Jackson 5”
“where the fuck is the Sun? It’s been a while. Momma look at ya son, what happen to my smile?”
“my tears is tatted, my gat in my pocket, I’m just lookin for the love I know someone got it”
“I look in the mirror, my only opponent”.
Who Gon Stop Me – Superb, I knew from hearing the original record that this would be problematic, in a good way. You’re going to love how it was transformed to switch up at certain transitions and breaks, that really sealed the deal. Hands down one of the best tracks here, from bars to sound, pretty much all around. This has the potential to shut dance floors down at the club. Kanye storms in on the first verse rhyming in Pig Latin: “Ixnay off my Dicks-nay, that’s pig latin, bitch-nay”. The Verse Simmonds penned hook is brilliantly ignorant: “Black rims, black cards, Black on back, black bra’s, whole lotta money in a black bag, black strap, you know what that’s for”. Hov stand outline: “Did all this without a diploma, graduated from the corner”.
Murder To Excellence Kanye utilizes his vocals much in the way he did in Runaway, and compliments the echoed voices sewn within the track. The focus and message of this track was centered around violence that plagues the African American community, and really society in general. Kanye boldly compares casualties of his hometown to the death toll in Iraq; “It’s a war going on outside we ain’t safe from, I feel the pain of my city wherever I go..314 soldiers died in Iraq, 509 died in Chicago”
Made It In America – This song will tug at heart strings and bring out emotion as Frank Ocean serenades this track like a young Sam Cooke, singing the sorrow in honor of fallen leaders “Sweet brother Malcolm, Queen Betty Shabazz”. When we look back at this record, this song will forever have Frank Ocean etched into Hip-Hop.
Why I Love You So – I don’t really remember much from this song as it was winding down. The most memorable part is the fact that Mr. Hudson brought his A-Game. Reminded me somewhat of a male version of Rihanna on “Run This Town”, he harmoniously shrieks “I love you so.. but why I love you..I’ll never know”, and the album ends on an abrupt, meeting adjourned.
I’MA LET YOU FINISH…
But we didn’t get to hear any of the bonus tracks from the deluxe edition. My personal top picks are: No Church, New Day, Welcome To The Jungle, Who Gon Stop Me and Made It In America. Overall, the album exceeded any expectation I had, in a number of different aspects. Sonically, lyrically, subject matter and the chemistry that Kanye and Jay-Z were able to pull off, without it becoming a one man show. This is certainly a masterpiece on the highly decorated wall of Hip-Hop hall of fame.