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Kanye West’s ‘Barry Bonds’ featuring Lil Wayne.
Godammit. For the second week in a row, as I’m typing up an entry, my rss feedermajigger shows Tom Breihan beat me to the punch. Here’s his take on ‘Barry Bonds’…

When ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ and ‘Stronger’ dropped as singles, they sounded so much like fully planned-out singles that they felt a bit cloying (even if they are still better than anything else on the radio). In contrast, ‘Barry Bonds’ sounds immediate. Although the nonsense chorus “Here’s another hit, Barry Bonds” is so topical as to feel gimmicky, it also gives the song a tossed-off feeling, like it was recorded last week (and maybe it was). It is refreshing for a song to not sound or present itself as an event but just a good song.

Kanye’s beat contains the expected Kanyeisms of late (Jon Brion piano noodling, those Mountain samples he uses on everything these days), but they interact with taut but expressive drums that don’t knock like DJ Premier’s but bear his influence, giving the song an good mix of nostalgia and 2007 relevance. There are also those gurgling synths that become more apparent as the track progresses; I’m going to assume they are the work DJ Toomp.

*Noz commented, pointing out that this beat was produced not by Kanye but by Nottz which obviously, you know, confounds the points in the above paragraph. But only kind of- I’d still imagine Kanye has something to do with the beat as it features the samples Kanye’s been applying to many of his beats lately. The keyboard tone heard on ‘Late’ is here and some of the ‘Finding Forever’ tracks; you also get that Mountain sample on ‘The People’ and ‘Wouldn’t Get Far’. Still, the beat is Nottz’s, not Kanye’s and yeah, those drums and those synths I credited to Toomp do sound like Nottz.

‘Stronger’ is really just a loop and ‘Can’t Tell Me Nothing’ sounded more like a through the mail beat-share between Toomp and Kanye than an actual collabo but on ‘Barry Bonds’ the techniques gel a lot more. If that isn’t Toomp on the synths, then it’s just a cool approximation by Kanye and I prefer that anyways. As I said before, I’m more excited by the idea of a young, relatively limited in his connections Kanye biting the drums from ‘XXplosive’ than the superstar Kanye calling Dre to get some Dre drums.

Unfortunately, the song is nearly ruined by an incredibly half-assed Lil Wayne verse. Weezy spends more than 10 seconds squealing and yelping in his stupid fucking voice that is redeemable when he kills it, but here he’s coasting along so it’s just painful. The non-bangerness of the beat can’t be blamed either; there’s plenty of nutso Wayne verses where he entirely ignores the beat.

Wouldn’t it make sense to drop a particularly stellar or weird verse on a Kanye West album? Unlike a lot of other rappers, one can assume Kanye would let him do whatever he wants. This is my biggest problem with Wayne: he seems to fold under pressure every time. He’ll destroy his mixtape verses because those verses hardly matter (and it’s on a mixtape, so the turd-verses are conveniently ignored by worshippers) and he’ll step his game up when his competition is like, Rick Ross and a bored-as-fuck T.I, but on anything that matters, he goes half-assed.

The sheer lack of content in Wayne’s verse and to a lesser extent Kanye’s, is pretty disappointing. Whether you like their flow or not, West and Weezy are dependable for saying something you can think about or feel. I don’t doubt that ‘Graduation’ will have plenty of personal moments, the two singles balance shit-talking and brutally-honest dissections of fame, but I guess in his quest to be a well-respected mega star rapper, Kanye’s dropped some of the idiosyncrasies. Of course, Kanye can brag like no other and some of the lines are delivered with enough fervor that you feel them (“Fresh off the plane, Konichiwa bitches”), moving them beyond braggadocio but still, he’s on the verge of pigeon-holing himself as the clever shit-talker in over his head; That used to be only a part of his personality.

But as Masta Killa said “the dumb are mostly intrigued by the drum” (only a rapper as not-on beat and faux-lyrical as the Masta could drop that gem) and I’m dumb and ‘Barry Bonds’ has a great beat. Lyrical nit-picking aside, while Wayne totally drops the ball, Kanye brings enough joy and swagger to compliment the beat and make a fun song.

Written by Brandon

August 17th, 2007 at 4:04 am

Posted in Kanye West, Lil Wayne

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