Five years ago today, Kanye West and Jay Z released their hit track “Otis,” the second single off their collaborative project Watch the Throne. The song has since become one of the most recognizable and acclaimed releases in hip hop—widely lauded for its lyricism and accompanying visuals. But, above all, people were obsessed with the incredible beat.
Verses about Rollies, popping bottles, and driving around in Benz were delivered over a chopped-up sample of Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness.”
The song, which was often considered a throwback to Kanye’s early days, did impressively well on the charts and eventually went platinum in sales. Many people attribute its success to that infectious Redding-sampled beat we all know and love. So it’s only fitting that such an amazing track would have an equally amazing story behind it.
In celebration of the song’s fifth anniversary, Roc Nation executive Lenny Santiago went to Instagram to describe the time “Otis” was made. It turns out, Kanye created the song in NYC’s Mercer Hotel, and he did it within 15-20 minutes. Insane, right?
"He was being reminded that he had to leave to catch his flight, he sort of brushed that off and was like, fuck it, let me just play y'all a piece of the song so you could see how dope it is," Lenny recalls. "He then approached the MPC and Keyboard and plays it. Everyone in the room does the ugly face like when you hear some dope shit or see the sickest slam dunk at a contest."
"15 or 20min later before he runs off to catch his flight, he creates the phenomenal track known to us as "OTIS," he adds.
You can read Lenny S.'s full story in the Instagram post below.