Monday, December 27, 2010

The Joy

What a gem this song truly is. Where should I begin my acclaim? I guess it's only appropriate to start where the song begins: a glowing, slowed down Curtis Mayfield sample ("The Makings of You" - Also a beautiful tune) whose warmth permeates the song and makes up the essence of Pete Rock's production in this track. It's complemented by soulful background vocals, vibrant harmonies, courtesy of Charlie Wilson.

Now we get into the meat and potatoes of the song, where Kanye goes in. What makes Kanye's verses so interesting on this track is that he returns to his older flows (think Freshman Adjustment) and juxtaposes them with lyrics whose style and context is entirely current and at most only glances at the past. Kanye reflects upon his motivations, aspirations, and confusions. He projects his image and contemplates it simultaneously, displaying his ever increasing self-awareness and control. This guy is smart, and so are his verses.

After yet another nostalgia-filled hook, Jay-Z engages the listener with his crisp flow, clever rhymes and intricate storytelling. Paired with Pete Rock's classic production, Jay-Z puts in a Blueprint-worthy performance, abundant with tales of ghetto childhood in all of its mischief and adventure. Kid Cudi takes over with a soothing rhythmic conclusion, a rather brief denouement that ties the tune together nicely.

"The Joy" is a modern day hip-hop artifact, a reminder of its roots and a reassurance of their importance in contemporary hip-hop music. It's comfort food for the hip-hop head who cringes at the current trends. It's the "sugar" and "honeysuckle," the life and soul of hip-hop, revealing itself to assure the skeptic that hip-hop is indeed alive and well.

"The Joy"

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