I WISH IT WERE BIGGER - Maybe they figured everybody was expecting big, thick, swelling club bangers and anthems. So they zagged instead of zigged. But I’m struck by the paucity of singles — or even memorable tracks. There’s a good chance that when it’s all said and done, I’ll have listened to the American Gangster soundtrack more times than Watch the Throne.
KANYE SOUNDS LIKE THE HORACE GRANT TO JAY’S JORDAN - This project is exciting because it’s Michael and Scottie, going head to head, but also on the same team. It’s a given Michael is gonna score at least 30 — maybe 45 — but that Scottie is going to pour in 25 and have 8 or 10 rebounds. He’ll push and maybe even outshine Michael at times. But hearing them in such close proximity, on track after track, Jay is consistently 2-3x the MC Kanye is. And I like ‘Ye. But he sounds better juxtaposed with Bon Iver.
FRANK OCEAN IS A STAR - Watch out John Legend. This dude is coming for you.
UNPLUG - Purely personal preference here, but I could do with a whole lot more “Gotta Have It” and “Otis” and a whole lot less “H.A.M.,” “Lift Off,” and “Why I Love You.” These guys belong on dustier grooves. Wayne regularly disembowels great electronic beats; this production doesn’t stack up.
SHAKE AND BAKE - Despite Yeezy sounding lesser than on just about every track, they do have nice interplay throughout. Rare that you get to hear two high-quality emcees play off each other in such a thoughtful and well-timed manner.
SOMEPLACE, MY DAD IS SMILING - Deep gratitude to ‘Ye for giving me an excuse to add another Otis Redding song to my rare groove sets (besides just “Tramp”). I was weaned on Otis. His syrupy voice regularly wafted through our home when I was a child. I have a deep, emotional connection to Otis Redding. I couldn’t be happier to see his handiwork get this kind of shine.