Forget about subtlety. "I'm going hard as a motherf--ker," Kanye commands on "H.A.M.," the debut single from Watch the Throne. Too bad, Ye's not going hard here, he's limping.
"H.A.M." looks great on paper, given the names on board. Kanye is coming off one of 2010's best albums, Jay-Z is coming off a slew of scene-stealing cameos, and Lex Luger is coming off a lucrative year as a go-to hit factory. The event, however, proves too much and they crumble under the pressure to deliver a surefire hit.
Luger infuses the beat with his signature cinematic atmospherics and synthetic bounce, which you'll recognize from earlier concoctions like Waka Flocka Flame's "Hard in da Paint" and Fabolous' "Lights Out (I Don't See Nobody)." It sounds like it's missing certain elements that are supposed to enrich the song. And while the piano-backed operatic singing is a nice touch, it sounds out of place and badly sequenced. Echoing Luger's uninspired tone, Ye lazily cribs a metaphor from Weezy ("Kicking b--ches out like Pam").
The onus then falls on Jay-Z to redeem the song, as he did many times in 2010. Instead, he phones in a verse about his rough childhood, his uncle's death, and his eventual rise from small fish to fish worthy of occupying the same water with great whites. While all those things make for a compelling narrative, they now seem about as fresh as a pair of well-worn rubber boots. Jay does manage to toss in a few clever lines, but it's not enough to save "H.A.M." from its anticlimactic ending.
Watch the Throne is off to a sluggish start. But given the history of the men behind this project, I expect some superior follow-up singles and album tracks.Listen to Jay-Z x Kanye West - "H.A.M"