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Kanye West & Jay-Z “H.A.M.”

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Kanye Jay-Z Watch Throne HAM

Kanye West and Jay-Z just took to their Watch the Throne Facebook page to drop the album’s lead single (“H.A.M.”) as a free download. As of this writing around 35,000 people have “liked” the track after being online for just a couple of hours, which is only to say that Watch the Throne is probably going to sell like gangbusters when it’s released whether or not it remotely reflects people’s individual expectations of either of the MCs. (Not that it wasn’t going to sell well before the Facebook page became indicative of its popularity; just sayin’…) The key purpose of raising the issue of expectation is to simply warn those who are still riding the high from West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy: the transition into “H.A.M.” isn’t an easy one.

The focal point of the track is how strikingly dissimilar Lex Luger’s production is to the bulk of the beats that the MCs have been flowing over in recent memory. Luger himself has called it “aggressive and hard,” but it only sounds that much more confrontational when based beneath the duo’s snarling lyrical style. Aside from the hard-snapping beat accentuated by an operatic backing and trickling piano, Kanye & Jay’s refrain of “I’m about to go H.A.M., hard as a mother fucker, let these n*ggas know who I am” has already ruffled some feathers; not because of its distance from Fantasy‘s mood or tone, but because of its likeness to a track from another MC who went H.A.M. in 2009. Earlier tonight The Smoking Section commented, “And I feel like somebody owes Pill and Atlanta residuals” and Rap Radar pointed out the similarity to Pill’s “Trap Goin’ H.A.M.” Plain and simple: that similarity is most certainly there.

Regardless of whether or not there might be some style biting going on and whether or not Jay and Kanye are coming hard as mother fuckers with the track, “H.A.M.” still retains an odd structure and utilizes a jagged sound before rolling through a minute and a half outro that is simply too ambitious for its own good. Watch the Throne is likely going to give “H.A.M.” the context which it sorely needs, but in the meantime the track is merely a fascinating outlier that shows a curious direction which very few were likely predicting.