Murder to Excellence

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"Murder to Excellence"
Song by Jay-Z & Kanye West
from the album Watch the Throne
ReleasedAugust 8, 2011

"Murder to Excellence" is a song by American rappers Kanye West and Jay Z, from their collaborative album Watch the Throne (2011). It samples "La La La" by Indiggo Twins and "Celie Shaves Mr./Scarification" by Quincy Jones. The song features additional vocals from Kid Cudi.[2] It was performed in North America during the Watch the Throne Tour. At the 2012 Bet Hip Hop Awards, the song was nominated for Impact Track.


Upon the release of the album, the track was a clear fan favourite.[3] It was part of the setlist for the Watch the Throne Tour when Kanye and Jay performed live in North America.[4]


"Murder to Excellence" contains portions of "Celie Shaves Mr./Scarification" written by Quincy Jones and Harvey Mason, Jr., as performed by Quincy Jones.[2] Samples of the recording "La La La" by the American band Indiggo Twins are contained in the song.[2] Kanye and Jay show consciousness which is a rarity on Watch the Throne, with the song addressing black-on black murder and black excellence with energy from both of them.[5]


Producer S1 revealed that the song was in the second batch of beats that he sent to West and that he focused on beefing up the drums to create a true hip hop sound.[6] Furthermore, S1 told Revolt TV in a phone call that he became involved with the album after his work on West's single "Power".[7] Working with Kanye and Jay on the track alongside fellow album songs "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Who Gon Stop Me" was described by producer and additional vocalist Swizz Beatz as: 'like being in the studio with Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson at the same time'.[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Tom Breihan of Pitchfork cited the subject matter of "black-on-black crime and the scarcity of people of color at society's highest seats" as an example on Watch the Throne of "how often Jay and Kanye address matters beyond their bank accounts".[9] Brian Josephs of Complex expressed his opinion of Kanye and Jay's rapping: "They were stunting for a higher purpose."[10]

"Murder to Excellence" earned a nomination for Impact Track at the 2012 Bet Hip Hop Awards and ultimately lost to "Daughters" by Nas.[11]


  1. ^ Ortiz, Edwin (August 9, 2011). "Jay-Z & Kanye West - Watch the Throne". HipHopDX. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Watch the Throne (PDF digital booklet). Jay-Z and Kanye West. Universal Music Group. 2011.
  3. ^ Chandler, D.L. (August 9, 2011). "Watch The Throne's 'Murder To Excellence' A Fan Favorite". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  4. ^ Bretbaf (October 17, 2011). "Kanye West & Jay-Z Concert Setlist at Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA, USA on October 28, 2011". Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  5. ^ Coats, Jalen (November 11, 2011). "Kanye West's and Jay-Z's "Black Excellence" Gap". HuffPost. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  6. ^ Horowitz, Steven (August 18, 2011). "S1 Recreates The Beat For Jay-Z & Kanye West's "Murder To Excellence"". HipHopDX. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  7. ^ Bristout, Ralph (August 8, 2016). "S1 reflects on creating "Murder to Excellence" for Jay Z and Kanye West's 'WTT'". REVOLT. Revolt TV. Retrieved January 12, 2019.
  8. ^ Horowitz, Steven (August 17, 2011). "Swizz Beatz Speaks On Contributions To Jay-Z & Kanye West's "Watch The Throne"". HipHopDX. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  9. ^ Breihan, Tom (August 11, 2011). "JAY-Z / Kanye West: Watch the Throne Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  10. ^ Josephs, Brian (August 8, 2018). "'Watch the Throne' Songs Ranked: A Track-by-Track Review". Complex. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  11. ^ "2012 Hip Hop Awards Winners & Nominees". BET. April 15, 2016. Archived from the original on October 16, 2017. Retrieved January 11, 2019.

External links[edit]