Jay-Z and Kanye’s “Watch the Throne” Reviewed: “Otis”
Track 4: “Otis” Featuring Otis Redding
Sounds Like: Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” if Otis never got around to explaining what it is you “got to, got to” do to cure a woman’s weariness. The album’s lead single, it’s probably the most conventionally crafted song on Watch the Throne, sounding like one of the old-school-soul-based beats Kanye made his bones with crafting—though, thankfully, Kanye is smart enough not to speed up Redding’s voice to near-chipmunk level.
Pros: Both rappers are at their narcissistic best here, Kanye showing off his “other other Benz” and Jay threatening to “call the paparazzi on [him]self.” Over the album’s least heavy-handed beat, both rappers feel like they’re just having a good time hanging out and being the two most successful rappers on the planet, which is basically the musical equivalent of listening to George Clooney and Brad Pitt banter about nothing much in particular in the Ocean’s movies. (And yes, we mean that as a compliment. A big one, in fact.)
Cons: The sound of Otis Redding, so comfortable and enjoyable at the beginning, becomes borderline interminable by song’s end, after you’ve heard his “got to, GOT TO!!” grunting for about the 200th time. It’s only right that Otis gets a posthumous guest artist credit on the song, since he probably puts in the most work of anyone.
Definitive Self-Aggrandizing Lyric: “I invented Swag.” (Jay-Z, of course.)
Song Winner: ‘Yeezy and Jay are on a level playing field in most respects, but when it comes to declaring one’s own awesomeness, no one can or ever has been able to fuck with Jay-Z. So absolute is the Jigga Man’s confidence that his claims to have “got [his] swagger back” are shocking—is Jay really trying to say that he lost it at one point?
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