The hype for Kanye West and Jay-Z’s collaboration Watch The Throne is colossal, as it should be. West released what most people are calling one of the best rap/hip-hop albums of all time. Jay-Z is considered one of the best rappers of all time. Jay and Ye aren’t a pair of new comers when it comes to collaborations; “Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)”, “Monster”, “Never Let Me Down”, “Run This Town” and so on. Their track record is near perfect in the eyes of fans. The bar was set and fans were eager to see how “H*A*M” would stack up to previous efforts. It’s just a sampling of what is to come from the project, but a lot was riding on this first single. Does “H*A*M” go hard enough to tantalize the most hardcore of fans?

“It was all good just a week ago…”

Yes, Yeezy, it was all good just a week ago. Kanye teased the world by saying Watch The Throne would be dropping in a week from New Years Eve. In his drunken state of mind, he actually meant that the first single would be dropping in a week. People were off-the-chain hyped, including myself. It was hard not to be. As promised, “H*A*M” dropped a little more than a week later, and man were some people pissed. The Lex Luger produced beat starts to play and immediately serves up a serious case of déjà vu. It definitely sounds different enough to set it apart from Luger’s other popular tracks, but is disappointing nonetheless. West went on record last year saying, “My growth in music production and mixing is retarded,” when talking about the quality of Watch The Throne. It would have been nice for the first single to have a self-produced beat straight from Kanye’s lab.

“Historically I’m kicking b-tches out like Pam n-gga/goin HAM n-gga/me and Jigga/and a n-gga still young/wanna have no kids/but I’ve been practicing with some actresses as bad as shit…”

Some of these lyrics just feel forced so that they flow well with the beat. It almost feels awkward listening to it on a first time through while trying to decipher exactly what West is rapping about. The tone of voice West has on the track makes it sound like he is mocking his own lyrics at times. The flow is definitely tight, but the lyrics just drag everything down.

“N-ggas fantasize about the shit that I do daily/like these rappers rap about all the shit that I do rarely/I’m like really half a billie n-gga/really you got baby money/keep it real with n-ggas/n-ggas aint got my lady money…”

Jay-Z may be the saving grace for “H*A*M” thanks to his flow and somewhat decent lyrics. He raps with a more serious tone than Kanye’s and gives an all around better performance. Jay’s verse is short lived, however, and just doesn’t have the power needed to make up for the rest of the tracks shortcomings.

I’ve given “H*A*M” many chances over the past week and will admit the hook is catchy and even sometimes addicting. I catch my self humming the beat or rapping the words: “I’m about to go HAM/hard as a mother-f-cker/let these n-ggas know who I am…” It’s not that the track is horrible, but it’s just not up to par with what we have come to expect from this power duo. Hov and Ye have set lofty expectations for Watch The Throne and even with a slip-up like this I’m still confident that the project will deliver. Look for our review in early March.