August 5, 2007

Drink Coasters: Jay-Z & R. Kelly - Unfinished Business (October 26, 2004)

Unfortunately for the listening public, the original Best Of Both Worlds collaborative project actually moved units, so Shawn Carter and Robert Kelly were under the mistaken impression that people actually wanted to hear some more duets. Unfinished Business was released one year after Jay-Z's so-called "retirement", in an effort to cash-in on a joint tour that the two were planning together. During the course of said tour, however, R. Kelly would pull some ridiculous diva shit, forcing Jigga to allegedly have one of his weed carriers mace him, which embarrassed Kells so much that he left the tour, thus enabling Jigga to repackage it as a "Jay-Z & Friends" concert series. To be honest, I probably would have done the same thing; there's no room for an artist on your tour who would rather leave the arena and work the McDonald's drive-thru instead of singing his songs. But instead of using mace, I probably would have just called him a child molester on the stage while performing.

A lot of people are under the impression that Unfinished Business was compiled of leftovers from the original recording sessions, a belief that has validity, since all of these songs suck as much as the originals did. However, after listening to this drink coaster (twice! See how much I suffer for my craft?), I truly believe these were all new recordings. The following are a few of my reasons why:

1. The beats on Unfinished Business, produced by (Red Hot Lover) Tone (of the Trackmasters) and Kells himself, actually sound better than on the first album. If these songs were leftovers, why wouldn't they have kept the good beats for the first release?

2. Hova references his "magic stick" on "She's Coming Home With Me", which is a reference to 50 Cent and Lil' Kim's song of the same name, which itself was a reference to what Curtis Jackson may or may not use in his vagina. (Curtis wasn't yet a household name in 2002, when the first Best of Both Worlds was released.)

3. The songs aren't all about sex. "Don't Let Me Die" is still just a subpar "Please God/Allah/Buddha/Ganesh, forgive me for I have sinned" song, but it sounds like a direct response to the criticisms surrounding the original album's lack of subject matter. Don't get me wrong, you couldn't mistake Unfinished Business for a hardcore thugged-out album if you had caught a halfway glace at the shiny disc through a funhouse mirror in absolute darkness, but the inclusion of this song makes me believe that they were actively trying.

4. Foxy Brown's guest vocal on "Stop" sounds awful, not just in poor rhyming skill, but literally, awful. To be perfectly fair, if this song was recorded in 2004, it would have been around the time that she was losing her hearing, which would affect her speech, thus changing up her vocals. Besides, she wasn't really doing anything in 2002; why would Jigga have even bothered to pay to put her in the booth around that time? Side note: Why would Jay-Z make two different songs called "Stop"? (Jay had a song with the same name on The Blueprint 2.1.)

5. A lot of the songs are actually sequels to the original album tracks: "She's Coming Home With Me" is actually referred to by Jigga as "Somebody's Girl Part 2"; more proof of this theory can be found with "Break Up (That's All We Do)" and "Mo' Money" (see "Break Up To Make Up" and "Get This Money", respectively).

6. Hova references CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas several times throughout the course of the album. He also passively references Tony Blair's retirement as Prime Minister, the invention of the iPhone, and how badly he's going to fuck up the marketing of both Ghostface Killah's and Method Man's next albums as Def Jam president.

Of course, this is just my own personal theory. I could be completely wrong.

Robert sings on this album only about a third of the time; for the rest, he does that sing/rap thing that Nelly believes he pioneered; as such, one of the reasons that this album fails is because Kells is rapping better than Hov. On the album's best beat, "We Got Em Goin'", Kells actually has a much longer verse than Jay or guest star/part-time Def Jam janitor Memphis Bleek combined, and his flow is much better. That's just pathetic, coming from the self-professed "best rapper alive". Once again, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the two recorded their parts separately, just like with the first album.

The reason I listened to this album twice is because, truthfully, it is actually better than the first release, and I was trying to decide between a full write-up or one of these short ones. The album still isn't any good, though. The guest appearances (at least, the ones that I haven't already mentioned) are inspired; Twista pops up on "Mo' Money" (which is puzzlingly referred to by both Kells and Twista as the remix to the first and only single "Big Chips"), and steals the show, the shine, the bling from the engineers, and everyone's respect and admiration, all before leaping out of a two-story window on the run from security, all while Hov and Kells stand around fighting over the last bottle of Cris. And the most bizarre guest spot is awarded to both Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, on the remix to "The Return", a song that paid homage to the two living legends in its original incarnation as the first track on the album. It's always good to hear Slick Rick on a track, even if it's just a marketing stunt.

I'm still puzzled why Shawn would even agree to recording more duets with an as-yet-not-convicted-but-it's-a-manner-of-time child molester, except for a tax write-off for Def Jam, which is entirely possible, given it was released in the fourth quarter of 2004. Unfinished Business has a better sound than its predecessor, but there is absolutely nothing on here that is important enough for you to drop everything and jump online to burn it. It's not worth your time, so I would just avoid it.

-Max

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R. Kelly & Jay-Z - The Best Of Both Worlds

4 comments:

  1. This album was the official discus of the 2004 Summer Olympics. I used to use the insert liner notes to clean beneath my fingernails. It pains me to think that someone out there had unprotected sex in the backseat of a car while this was playing and had subsequently had an ADD addled baby.

    Makes me wanna holler.

    One.

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  2. "But instead of using mace, I probably would have just called him a child molester on the stage while performing."

    I had a chuckle out of that...I can just see it

    Jay: "let me introduce my partner, come on out here you child molester...try not to piss on anyone"

    R Kelly: "fuck you, I'm going to go work at McDonalds....hi little girl, want some candy?"

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  3. ef huttin'August 07, 2007

    "...and steals the show, the shine, the bling from the engineers, and everyone's respect and admiration, all before leaping out of a two-story window on the run from security, all while Hov and Kells stand around fighting over the last bottle of Cris."

    Pure gold. You should be getting paid for this shit!

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  4. I considered leaving my wife for owning this disc.

    ReplyDelete