When I watched the “Otis” video premiere, it was sandwiched between MTV’s The Challenge: Rivals and a rerun of last week’s Jersey Shore. You might be thinking that this has something to do with what I’m about to say – like I’m about to make some Jay-Z/Kanye West bash via pop culture association. It doesn’t – I’m not. I actually enjoy both of those programs, and just wanted to set the tone and let you know my state of mind when I first watched – I was enjoying myself.
With so much hype behind anything related to Watch The Throne, expectations have broken through the ceiling, kept moving up, and probably joined with space rocks and satellites for some orbiting action. Seeing the premiere of the “Otis” video was not a typical viewing experience, it was a fucking event.
Watching it for the first time, I was left with a smile on my face, but besides that, I didn’t take much more from it. It seemed like a really, really good time, and just witnessing it was enough to make us common folk giddy. Just look at Jay’s face – he’s over 40? Just look at Ye’s face – he knows heartbreak? They look as happy as children on French Fries Day.
It’s easy to dismiss this video as an excuse for the veteran rappers to show off and have a good time, but is that all there is to it?
I’m still not sure I’ve completely wrapped my head around Watch The Throne, but part of what this album appears to be is an over-the-top representation of what Jay and ‘Ye have become – heroes of hip-hop, feasts for pop culture junkies. Like, “Yeah, we’re famous rap stars, completely out of touch with reality and we’re not exactly ‘normal’ people anymore. We’re not gonna deny it, we’re gonna run with that and take it to extreme levels.” At times throughout WTT, it seems like the two artists stand there with their fame and wonder what the fuck else there is to do with it.
Jay and ‘Ye, clearly understand that they are standing on a peak. “Keeping it real” has always been essential in hip-hop, and right now the “fakest” thing they can possibly do right now is talk about average-person stuff. Glorifying their realities is basic. OVER glorifying their realities, though? Taking it to the level of caricatures of wealth, status, and glory? This is not rich person rap. This is not celebrity rap, or luxury rap, or best rapper alive rap. This is The Throne. What’s rap to a king?
Just think about it – when people are criticizing hip-hop for placing too much emphasis on wealth, what better symbol is there than the Maybach? It’s the epitome of an over-used status indicator that most people will never achieve. In this video, Jay and ‘Ye take a blowtorch and a saw to it, cut it to pieces, fill it with models, and drive it around recklessly while smiling and laughing like hyenas. All while a giant American flag hangs in the background.
It’s not a mockery of their situation, because this is their lives, but at this point, what else can they do? Jay’s in a pretty good situation. ‘Ye seems to have aired out a good portion of his personal troubles. All they can really do is look at where they are and either lie, tell it like it is, complain, or sensationalize it to the point where it becomes borderline satirical. WTT and the “Otis” video go with the last option. It’s probably the most creative way to approach things.
They’re taking a Maybach, a status symbol that most people can’t relate to or afford, and turning it into pure fun/entertainme