It’s been a good week for event singles: Britney’s “Hold It Against Me” was released yesterday, and this morning, as promised, Kanye West and Jay-Z’s lead Watch the Throne track, “H.A.M.,” dropped. (For the record: Yes, it is a reference to “going ham,” as in “hard as a motherfucker”; no, the initials don’t also stand for Hardee’s Assistant Manager or Hillel Association of Maryland.) And now one must give credit where credit is due: For two guys who have collaborated together an awful lot in the last half-decade, ‘Ye and Jay have actually managed to find a brand-new tack for the fervently anticipated “H.A.M.” And that new tack is: making a shouty Waka Flocka Flame song.
Over a beat from Lex Luger — the 19-year-old kid who’s provided proudly loud and dumb production to Rick Ross and, yes, Waka Flocka Flame — the principals take turns (just one verse and one chorus each, plus a robotic opera/militaristic drum outro) spitting the brashest shit they can possibly think of. Kanye goes first, shouting out white girls who have ways for compensating for their flat behinds, but by the time Jay starts up that first verse feels like an amuse-bouche. At this point in his career, it’s hard to guess exactly what you’ll get out of a Jay-Z guest verse; he may stumble (“Lights Up”) as many times as he hits (“The Joy”), but that just means that, like a veteran relief pitcher, he can still dial back and throw the heat every once in a while. On “H.A.M.,” he obliges: Flirting at times with a rarely seen double-time flow, Jay scatters bullets in every direction; it’s the traditional “nobody can touch me and I had a rough upbringing” subject matter, rendered excellently (“I’m like really half a billy / nigga, really, you got baby money / keep it real with niggas, niggas aint got my lady money,” “Comme des Garcons, fuck yo’ fresh / head shots, nigga, fuck yo’ vest”). If you were expecting the big radio hook, “H.A.M.” might be a head-scratcher; if you were expecting two guys rapping so intently you can almost see their neck veins bulging — well, here you go.
Update: The YouTube links are getting pulled down. Listen at RapRadar