Music set is ushered in with “To The World,” where R. Kelly’s victorious vocals and a symphonic backdrop are punctuated by a 40-second verse from Kanye West where he declares himself the “God of Rap.”
Notably, the first words you hear on “Cruel Summer” aren’t from Mr. West, but rather from the besieged R&B singer R. Kelly, on “To the World,” who sings with defiant anguish, through layers of digital processing: “I’m on my Sinatra/I’m doing it my way/Let’s take it a notch up.”
- The New York Times
It's R. Kelly who steals the show on the first track, "To the World." The "I Believe I Can Fly" singer urges listeners to throw their middle fingers up in a surprisingly motivational tune, where he proclaims, "The whole world is a couch, bitch, I'm Rick James tonight," in a nod to Dave Chappelle's everlasting depiction of the legendary pop star.As far as album openers go, "To the World" is a spotless first step, maybe too good, as it pushes the bar up another few notches before track two even begins.
The presence of R.Kelly on a rap song, let alone opening a rap album, is viciously beautiful -- beautiful enough to smooth the wrongs caused by Kellz and Kanye's trite rhymes. "R. Kelly and the God of rap shittin' on ya/ Holy crap," 'Ye ends his rhyme. Teyana Taylor misses the opportunity to close the song with any vocal prowess.
Opening track “To the World” affects the brilliant pairing of West with fellow eccentric R. Kelly. The latter provides a majestic hook, which allows the former to summon the paranoid ferocity that underwrites his finest lyrical moments. When West snarls, “I’m just trying to protect my stack / Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax,” optimists can be excused for speculating that the album to follow will prove rich with similar lyrical gambits.
- Music is my Oxygen Weekly
“To The Word” opens the album and fans will be happy to hear R. Kelly return to the spotlight as he carries the track with West. Kelly sings about overcoming odds after the world turned against him as Kanye spits, “Pulled up in the Aventador / And the doors raise up like praise the Lord / Did the fashion show and a tour and a movie and a score.”
- The Daily Cougar
Take the first song of the album, “To The World,” featuring R. Kelly. The song starts out with some music that is absolutely over-the-top epic. A hard driving beat with a drum line fit for a military march begins, and suddenly, this album is off to a roaring start. You feel like Kanye has prepared this album, as a coronation of sort, crowning himself the king of music today. R. Kelly’s voice, as soulful as ever, comes in over the beat and it feels both incredible and dignified at the same time. Yet, somehow, the song delves into a sort of nihilism, with R. Kelly crooning to listeners to, “Stick your middle fingers up to the world.”
- The Miami Hurricane
Guests include a marvelously surly R. Kelly ("The whole world is a couch/ Bitch, I'm Rick James toniiiight!" he belts on "To the World")
- Rolling Stone
If that intro seems a little intense, it’s because I had “To The World” playing on repeat while I wrote it. It’s easy to get amped up when R. Kelly is sending his vocal cords soaring over an instrumental that could have been the official theme song of the London Olympics.
The opener, “To The World,” features R. Kelly and West. Contrary to popular opinion, I found it relatively pleasing. Sure, Kelly is given a huge chunk of the song and West should’ve maybe thought about starting the album off with more of a bang. Regardless of all that talk, R. Kelly’s chanting of “To the world/to the world/to the wo oh oh oh” was easy on the ear.