Auto-Tune, the pitch-correcting software that makes B-list celebs sound like singers and T-Pain sound like himself, is generally a love it/hate it kind of thing. Jay-Z hates it. He made that very clear this weekend by dropping a single titled “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” that’s already igniting some fierce debate among fans. Stream the controversial cut below (some NSFW language), then click through to the jump to read my snap-judgment take and let us know what you think.
First off, Jay isn’t trying for a pop hit here. He’s issuing a manifesto. “This ain’t a number one record,” he spits. “This is practically assault with a deadly weapon.” Take note, Auto-Tune abusers: “Y’all n—-s singing too much/Get back to rap, you T-Painin’ too much!” That insult could apply to any number of rappers who have spent the last year or so whining into a robot-voice effect instead of actually rapping. Rappers like, well, Jay’s buddy Kanye West — who happened to co-produce “Death of Auto-Tune” with his old mentor No I.D. Others have noted that Jay assured an interviewer this weekend that his jabs aren’t aimed at Kanye, nor at repeat Auto-Tune offenders like Lil Wayne or even T-Pain himself, which leaves it even less clear just who he is going after here. And no, for better or for worse, Auto-Tune is almost definitely not dying any time soon in the real world.
What does it matter if “Death of Auto-Tune” holds up as a conceptual statement under close examination, though? As a piece of music, it’s superb. No I.D. and Kanye have turned in what might be the beat of the year. (“Kinda Like a Big Deal,” you’re on notice.) Nasty guitar licks, drunk horns, rueful strings, hard drums — this thing knocks. Jay, of course, rides that beat like only he can. I hope that when September rolls around and Jay-Z releases The Blueprint 3, it’s not all semi-confusing concept disses of computer programs. But you know what? If they all sound this good, I won’t lie and say I’ll mind. Give “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” a listen above if you haven’t already, then tell us how you like Jay-Z’s latest.