Words: David Amidon

Kanye West and Jay-Z didn’t collaborate more than a couple times between the “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” remix in 2005 and Kanye’s production work on The Blueprint 3 in 2009. That long four-year stretch has made every co-operation between them since feel more significant than it might have in the years when Kanye and Jay went together like ham and cheese. After the progressive, if slightly lukewarm, work they did together on that third Blueprint and their dual masterpieces on Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (as well as the various G.O.O.D. Friday tracks Jay-Z blessed), the combo has become somewhat of a creative beacon in hip-hop. Even if the final product doesn’t come out entirely as expected, most listeners should feel grateful just to hear the two rappers on one track, right?

“H.A.M.”, the debut single from their collaborative Watch the Throne project, confuses that narrative. Over a beat supplied by Rick Ross and Waka Flocka Flame favorite Lex Luger (who also provided the drums for Dark Fantasy bonus cut “See Me Now”) with late-game augmentations from Kanye, the two rappers exchange nothing in particular about anything but anything. In short, the song comes and goes as little more than a showcase for rappers rapping and a young, up-and-coming teenager doing what he’s already proven he can do – rattle trunks. “H.A.M.” isn’t an unfun listen, it’s just a disappointing one. Granted, I wasn’t too taken by “Power” either on first, second and tenth listens, but in the context of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, it quickly became one of my favorite songs of 2010. I doubt the same fate befalls “H.A.M.,” but there is some glimmer of hope out there that two of hip-hop’s golden children can encroach upon this lukewarm introduction to Watch the Throne in such a way that it all makes sense and feels right. But as a lead single? I’m afraid all but the most subwoofer-oriented among us might be left woefully underwhelmed.

Listen to the track here, and download it at illroots.com.

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