11. "Made In America" Featuring Frank Ocean
Sounds Like: A patriotic anthem that's more subtle than "Empire State Of Mind," with the pulsing synth reminiscent of Toto's "Africa" underneath Ocean's chorus.
Pros: Ocean recalls the names of those not only important to African-American history (Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, Malcolm X), but American history in general. But while 'Ye spends his time looking back, remembering his rise from summer school student to in-demand producer ("I told my mama I was on the come up / She said 'you going to school I'll give you a summer' / The she met NO ID and gave me his number / 10 years later she driving a Hummer"), Hov is planning ahead for the future and his potentially expanding family. (That's the sound of millions of blogs launching speculative "What Should Beyoncé and Jay-Z Name Their Unborn Child?!" posts.) Like "Welcome To The Jungle," this is Jay at his most vulnerable, revealing things he may be thinking but not regularly willing to share with others. While the song's chorus seems to honor all of those "Made In America," the track is really a look at the history these two have shared and perhaps their differing futures, which is a fitting fixture towards the end of the album.
Cons: The midtempo track is carried by Ocean's smooth chorus, but for someone known for his NSFW lyrics with and without Odd Future, hearing him sing the sweet, innocent-as-apple-pie lyrics seems a bit confusing.
Definitive Self-Aggrandizing Lyric: Kanye is nowhere near modest when referencing the power just about anything he does has over ye old Internet. "Old folks'll tell you not to play in traffic / A million hits and the web crashes—damn!" could be about a number of things—the unexpected remarks about George Bush during the telethon for Hurricane Katrina, crashing Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the VMAs, joining Twitter—all of which went viral in a matter of seconds. This tongue-in-cheek reference to his mass fame packs extra punch thanks to his seemingly indifferent attitude towards it all.
Song Winner: Frank Ocean's "Sweet Baby Jesus" might be stuck in your head for the rest of the day (or have you reaching for your copy of Talladega Nights) but for us, it's Kanye who manages to both appreciatively give thanks to his rise to fame as well as generate more than one eye roll with his bravado ("This ain't no fashion show, motherfucker we live it").