Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Watch the ThroneReleased: 2010
This is a song by American Hip-Hop artists Kanye West and Jay-Z, from their collaborative studio album, titled Watch The Throne. The song features Elly Jackson from English electropop and synthpop duo La Roux.
In his main verse West, who's a devotee of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, mentions the late artist when he raps, "You say I care more about them basquion's, basquiats."
West quotes the album title in the same verse: "I paid for them titties, get your own/It aint safe in the city, watch the throne."
Jay-Z namechecks his wife, Outkast's Andre 3000 and a famous art dealer inside of two lines: "Back to my Beyoncés, you deserve three stacks for the Andre/ Call Larry Gagosian, you belong in museums."
The song samples the conga break from the Incredible Bongo Band's version of "Apache," an instrumental tune originally made popular in the UK by The Shadows
, and in North America by Jørgen Ingmann
. Despite their cover not being a hit, The Incredible Bongo Band's conga break has become a much sampled staple of many producers in drum and bass.
Amongst the credited writers is Bon Iver mainman Justin Vernon, who also collaborated with Kanye West on his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
" and "Lost In The World
To those outside of hip-hop culture, Jay's rhymes in this song sound disrespectful and even hateful to women. However, Bu Thiam, Def Jam's VP of A&R, argued to MTV News that his verse is actually uplifting his wife, Beyoncé. He said: "The way Jay writes records you have to really go back and listen to 'em. The way he said 'bitch' and 'dog' and then 'get ya own' like how he used the Big Pun [flow]. So you have to really go back and listen to it three or four times to be able to say anything about a Jay-Z record. Really he's bigging up his wife through the whole verse, but if you're small minded, you won't catch that."
West later had second thoughts concerning whether curse-words like "bitch" were permissible to say in a rap. He mused in a September 2012 tweet, "I usually never tweet questions but I struggle with this so here goes... is the word BITCH acceptable?", adding: "To be more specific, is it acceptable for a man to call a woman a bitch even if it's endearing?"
This was one of several collaborations Elly Jackson did with Kanye West. She's one of the voices featured in the chorus of "All of the Lights
" and also sung on "Lost in The World
" and "Who Will Survive in America
Jackson recalled the experience to The Daily Beast
: "Kanye just asked if I would do some stuff on his record, and I obviously was interested and wanted to hear what he was doing," said the La Roux singer. "When I did hear it, I really liked the melodies he'd written. It was a very strange three days, as I'm sure you can imagine—which I'm not going to go into—but I came out thinking, "You're very talented to me and interesting, but I don't think I'd put myself in that situation again." [Laughs]