Made In America

Album: Watch The Throne (2011)
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Songfacts®:

  • After finding success working on Rihanna's single "Man Down," Sham "Sak Pase" Joseph and Verse Simmonds who make up the production duo the Jugganauts, moved onto working on Kanye West and Jay-Z's collaboration album Watch The Throne. This Frank Ocean featuring track was one of a couple that they helped craft for the duo. Simmonds told MTV News the pair's working relationship is very flexible. "In the studio, it can go one of two ways: Most times I'm writing and he's creating the track, and we produce a lot of records like that," he said. "Sometimes it'll flip; he'll be writing and I'll be producing the track so it depends on the vibe, and who comes in there first, who's got an idea or concept."
  • Much of Watch The Throne deals with the two hip-hop superstars reflecting on their success, and this track finds the pair contemplating their come-up. We hear Kanye recalling making his beats and selling them to Jay at the early part of his career. The Chicago star adds that now he, "gets high on his own supply," the dope being his own music.
  • The hook features R&B singer-songwriter Frank Ocean paying homage to some greats in recent African-American history such as Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz, Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King.
  • The song was originally titled "Sweet Baby Jesus."
  • Def Jam VP of A&R Bu Thiam told MTV News about Frank Ocean's contribution to this track: "That's what Frank is about if you listen to his music you can tell that he's a very smart guy. We were in the studio, Jay wasn't there, 'Ye wasn't there, it was just me and Noah - one of the engineers. [Frank Ocean] was just thinking of different concepts, he was there for like eight hours, then probably like six in the morning he was like 'Sweet baby Jesus.' "
  • Laura Escudé, who was a concert playback engineer (triggering stage and vocal effects) for Kanye West and worked the Watch The Throne tour, played violin on this track, as she is also a classically trained violinist. Escudé also recorded a violin section for the live version of "H.A.M." that would open the concerts.
  • The New York musician Joel McDonald, who goes by the stage name Joel Mac, filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit over this song in November 2014. Mac claimed he recorded a song titled "Made in America" in 2009 and he sold a copy of his CD containing the track to producer Mike Dean. To his surprise, he later discovered Watch the Throne included a similar song with the same title and Mike Dean listed as a producer. Mac's suit alleged Jay Z, West, Ocean and Dean lifted the concept of the track and sought a cut of its profits.

    In September 2015, a district court dismissed McDonald's lawsuit, finding that it failed to state a plausible claim. A year later a federal appeals court upheld the lower court's dismissal of the New York musician's case.

    "We have considered all of McDonald's arguments and find them to be without merit," the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

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