Jay-Z And Kanye West, ‘Otis’ – Review

Here it is, then – the second track to emerge from Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collaborative album ‘Watch The Throne’, which gets a digital release on August 1.

‘Otis’ samples a slowed-down live version of Otis Redding’s ‘Try A Little Tenderness’. First impressions are that it’s a little slight – subtle, even, barely three minutes long – not quite the grandstanding Olympian rap face-off you might expect from these two masters of braggadocio.

Though the two rappers are evenly matched in terms of time on the mic, Jay-Z has the edge: his rhymes cut through more than Kanye’s, especially the provocative line about smoking cigars with Fidel Castro (“not bad for some immigrants”).

It seems to be both a celebration of the underdog – the outsider who winds up owning a private jet – and a critique of high-rolling celeb culture. At one point Jay-Z talks mockingly about being “photoshop fresh… I’m about to call the paparazzi on my cell”.

In all honesty, if this winds up being the highlight of ‘Watch The Throne’ we’ll all be a bit disappointed. Still, it’s hard to resist the awesome syncopation of Jay-Z and Kanye’s vocals bouncing off Redding’s raw-throated, insistent “squeeze ya, tease ya” coda.

What we have here are two titans of black music duetting with another from beyond the grave. For that reason, it’s unquestionably An Event. “I guess I got my swagger back”, barks Jay-Z at the start. As though he ever lost it.

Guest vocals on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Watch The Throne’ album come from Beyonce, Odd Future’s Frank Ocean and Mr Hudson, alongside samples of Otis Redding and Curtis Mayfield. Production credits, meanwhile, come from Mike Dean, Swizz Beatz, No ID and The Neptunes.

The pair revealed the tracklisting for ‘Watch The Throne’ earlier this month, when it was revealed that ‘H.A.M.’ had been relegated to the status of bonus track. It has been heavily speculated that the next single will be the Beyonce-sung ‘Lift Off’.

Kanye and Jay-Z last collaborated on ‘Run This Town’, the lead track from ‘The Blueprint 3’, alongside Rihanna.