Jay-Z and Kanye West's "Watch the Throne" Reviewed: "Murder to Excellence"
Track 10: “Murder to Excellence”
Sounds Like: Two different songs, for one thing. The first part (“Murder”) is a melancholy, Swizz Beats-produced lamentation of black-on-black violence, built around a schoolgirl-sounding vocal sample from Romanian twin duo Indiggo’s “La La La.” The second part (“Excellence”) is similarly laid back, but more triumphant-sounding as the two celebrate their lives representing the best case scenario for their background.
Pros: It’s an interesting experiment, presenting the best and worst of the black experience within the same song, and for the most part it works—there’s enough continuity between the two parts musically that the transition isn’t jarring, and the title helps to explain what’s going on. And the two are clearly invested in the material, especially on “Murder,” where Kanye raps “I feel the pain wherever in my city wherever I go / 314 soldiers died in Iraq, 509 died in Chicago.”
Cons: The “Paper read murder / Black on black murder” hook from “Murder” is a little overbearing and clumsy.
Definitive Self-Aggrandizing Lyric: “Black excellence, Truly yours”
Song Winner: We’ll give “Murder” to Kanye (“Heard about at least 3 killings this afternoon / Lookin’ at the news like damn I was just with him after school”) but “Excellence” to Jay (“In sheepskin coats, I silence the lamb / Do you know who I am Cla-riccccce?“), so a draw overall.
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