Tag Archives: Kanye West

Kanye West & Bon Iver reunite on eclectic track from Francis and the Lights

Francis and the Lights just released my pick for song of the summer. Never heard of ’em? Neither had I, until last night, when Kanye West tweeted out a link to the music video embedded above, claiming it, “My favorite song this year.” The track, titled “Friends,” is intrinsically pop, with a calm buildup that climaxes into a groovy medley with kaleidoscopic sounds and wavy echoes. The minimalist music video, expertly directed by Jake Schreier in a single shot, is the perfect compliment to the song. Francis Farewell Starlite–the musician behind the Lights–and his erratic dance moves are prominently featured here. Kanye makes an appearance as does Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. The video culminates in cool synchronized dance choreography that effortlessly draws you into the fun they’re having. The combined power of Kanye, Justin, and Francis’ electronic coos is nothing short of hypnotizing! If you are a fan of Vernon’s ethereal touch on West’s Twisted Fantasy tracks “Monster” and “Lost in the World,” then Francis’ “Friends” will surely soothe the soul.

If you’re like me and feel compelled to explore Francis and the Lights’ discography, let me help you with that. From 2007-2013, Francis released four EPs and they’re all available on iTunes. In addition, he scored the sci-fi drama Robot & Frank, which happens to be directed by the music video’s helmer Schreier. Francis recently posted a new song called “Thank You” on SoundCloud, and he’s currently on tour with Bon Iver. And if “Friends” sounds like something you’ve heard before, you’re not alone; Francis sampled the song in a track he produced for Chance the Rapper, “Summer Friends.”

Now excuse me as I plug in my headphones and get lifted by this summer surprise, on repeat indefinitely. Stream it on Spotify and download it on iTunes. READ MORE Kanye West & Bon Iver reunite on eclectic track from Francis and the Lights

Kanye finally gives in, drops ‘The Life of Pablo’ on all major streaming services

Despite his efforts to lock down his new album exclusively on Tidal, Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo is finally available to stream across the other major services including Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play Music. Whether or not this decision was made by Kanye or his record label Def Jam may forever remain a mystery. Whatever went down behind the scenes, though, ultimately doesn’t matter; fans of Kanye’s music who simply wouldn’t succumb to subscribing to Tidal just to listen to TLOP (myself included) now have many options to hear the new music. Previously Kanye had also said that TLOP would never be put up for sale. Though a physical copy of the album still remains nonexistent, ‘Ye is selling it as a digital download on his website for $20, for those of you who prefer to own music as opposed to streaming it.

If you follow Kanye on Twitter, then you’re well aware about the “living breathing changing creative expression” that is The Life of Pablo. Since the album’s February release, ‘Ye’s been going back into the studio to update many of TLOP‘s tracks including “Wolves” which now features Sia and Vic Mensa again. At the very end of March, Def Jam told The New York Times that “a newly updated, remixed and remastered version” would be uploaded on the aforementioned streaming services. The label went on to say that “In the months to come, Kanye will release new updates, new versions and new iterations of the album.” So, if you want to capture TLOP as it plays now, it’d be wise to download the digital copy for keeps.

Now that my TLOP boycotting phase is over (that extended exclusivity window was wack!), excuse me while I plug in my headphones and bump ‘Ye’s latest collection.

Kanye West finally releases new album, but it’s a Tidal-exclusive (for now)

At last, Kanye West has dropped his seventh studio album, now officially titled The Life of Pablo. Originally, it went by So Help Me God, and then it turned into Swish, and then Waves. Moving on! The album was first previewed to the public at Madison Square Garden last week where ‘Ye hosted a massive gathering to also show off his Yeezy Season 3 fashion line. The plan was to drop TLOP on Friday, Feb. 12, but due to production delays, he ended up formally announcing its availability following his two live performances on SNL. Interestingly, the album does not include previously released tracks such as “Only One,” “FourFiveSeconds,” and “All Day.” Of the 18 total tracks, fans will instantly recognize these four: “Real Friends,” “Wolves,” “No More Parties in LA,” and “Facts.” Production and vocals on the final versions of these songs, mind you, were tweaked from their original incarnations, so you might want to hold onto both versions in your collection. Eye the album’s questionable artwork after the break.

And now for some sour news for Kanye fans all over. On SNL, West told fans to head to Tidal to stream The Life of Pablo. News came out that the album would be a Tidal-exclusive during its initial launch period of about a week or so. Turns out that window will go on indefinitely. The meddling rapper has been ranting on Twitter lately, and a tweet that stuck many fans (myself included) right in heart reads, “My album will never never never be on Apple. And it will never be for sale… You can only get it on Tidal.” This very well may be a marketing ploy to get his fanbase to sign up for Tidal subscriptions, and TLOP may still be on track for a regular major release across the other music streaming services. But this stings. If Kanye indeed has this power over his label, he is doing a massive disservice to his fans who don’t subscribe to Tidal and instead rely on iTunes/Amazon/Google or even the collection of physical copies of CDs. As a longtime fan and supporter of West’s contributions to music and the rap scene, I am incredibly displeased with all of this. Not cool.

Among his many recent Twitter rants, Kanye is pleading Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other wealthy individuals to give him money so he can live out his creative dreams. Hey Kanye: If you released your new album on more than one platform you’d make yourself some more money! According to TorrentFreak, “an estimated 500,000 people” have illegally downloaded a copy of TLOP on torrent sites like BitTorrent and The Pirate Bay. Of course, illegal sharing and downloading of albums, movies, etc. is a normal occurrence these days, but I think it’s safe to say that ‘Ye could have curbed this astronomical number by selling his album on the industry’s most popular platforms like iTunes. Here’s to hoping he comes to his senses, or his label strong-arms him into sharing his latest work (which has been receiving solid reviews) with the rest of us.

Update (2/17): Kanye’s uploaded the album’s credits on his website; big talents like Kendrick Lamar, Kid Cudi, Rihanna, and The Weeknd can be spotted. Unfortunately, there’s no update on TLOP extending its reach beyond Tidal. For now, make due with Stephen Colbert’s scathing review of the rapper’s recent tweetstorm. READ MORE Kanye West finally releases new album, but it’s a Tidal-exclusive (for now)

Kanye West drops three new tracks ahead of February album release

On New Year’s Eve, Kanye West dropped a brand new song titled “Facts” almost exactly one year after his last major release “Only One.” In his new rap he spits verses about his fledging fashion career, he praises his wife Kim Kardashian’s emoji app Kimoji, and he remains timely by incorporating a reference to Steve Harvey’s Miss Universe mishap.

More recently, ‘Ye released another new song called “Real Friends” and tagged at the end of it is a snippet of a third never-before-heard track, “No More Parties in LA.” The former track plays with Kanye’s favorite toy autotune and features Ty Dolla $ign. Per Twitter, Kanye produced the song, Frank Dukes and Boi 1da made the sample, and drum programming is by Havo. The “No More Parties” snippet previews a feature by Kendrick Lamar. Kanye produced the intro and hired DJ Madlib to direct the rest of the track.

All three tracks have been released on Kanye West’s official SoundCloud page. Though download links aren’t provided, ‘Ye apparently has no problem with his fans ripping the songs from the site.

In addition to copping these new beats, fans can finally mark down on their calendars the official release date for Kanye’s next album. Swish, formally known as So Help Me God, releases February 11. Though ‘Ye hasn’t confirmed a tracklist yet, Swish will more than likely include “Only One” (Featuring Paul McCartney), “FourFiveSeconds” (Featuring Rihanna & Paul McCartney), “Wolves” (Featuring Vic Mensa & Sia), “All Day” (Featuring Theophilus London, Allan Kingdom, and Paul McCartney), and of course “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in LA.”

Update (1/18): And here’s the Kendrick Lamar-assisted “No More Parties in LA” in all its 6-minute and 15-second glory.

Kanye West outs new, recognizable material

Calling all Kanye fans, we’ve got a curious case on our hands. After releasing a handful of singles assisted by the likes of Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Sia, and Vic Mensa, Mr. West has created his very own SoundCloud account and is using it to drop (not so) new music into the laps of his fans. Let me explain.

Rising rapper Travis Scott sent out an Instagram in mid-October tagged with an image of the new SoundCloud account and the words “It’s starts.” Poor grammar aside, the link to the account brings you to two Kanye-driven tracks titled “Say You Will” and “When I See It.” Those titles should ring a bell. The first song is an altered version of ‘Ye’s opening to track his fourth studio album, 808s and Heartbreak. Though the differences to the original are not startling here, the inclusion of featured artist Caroline Shaw adds a new dimension to the already epic production.

The other released track, “When I See It,” is a reworking of The Weeknd’s song “Tell Your Friends.” In case you didn’t know, this particular beat was originally imagined and produced by West, and he ended up gifting it to The Weeknd for him to package inside his third studio album Beauty Behind the Madness. Here, West puts his own spin and his original record. One wonders if the undeniable presence  of autotune here is laying the groundwork for what we can expect from West’s next effort.

Like all the other post-Yeezus material Kanye has dropped to this point, it’s hard to say where these songs may eventually land. The rapper’s long-incubating seventh album Swish (formally known as So Help Me God) is still in the works but with no release date in sight. If you’ve been yearning for something, anything from Kanye West, this is for you. And cherish it, because who knows when West’s next production will make it out of the woodwork.

Kanye West announces new album title, artwork & single “All Day”

This week Kanye West made a few major announcements regarding his upcoming seventh studio album: it’s got a title, new single, and fresh album artwork. Ye’s next collection of music is collectively called So Help Me God and it will ship with previously released tracks “Only One” (Featuring Paul McCartney) and “Wolves” (Featuring Sia and Vic Mensa). Sources say the Rihanna-led “Four Five Seconds” is exclusively bound for the Barbadian singer’s next record.

As for Ye’s third single off So Help Me God, it’s called “All Day” and he debuted it live at the BRIT Awards last week. Today, he released a studio version on iTunes; preview it above. If you’ve been missing Ye going hard, “All Day” is the answer to your prayers. The rapper spits lyrics on top of an infectious beat, and he’s assisted by Trinidadian-born alt-hip-hop artist Theophilus London, Canadian rising rapper Allan Kingdom, and yes, Sir Paul McCartney rounds the track out with some whistling. Rolling Stone reports McCartney’s contribution, and they astutely speculate that the whistling was actually plucked from a song the Beatle shared in 1969.

Lastly, scroll up to eyeball the stylistic album artwork for So Help Me God. Four lower-case m’s connect to form a diamond shape. Redditors say it’s representative of a 13th century monastic symbol for the Virgin Mary, but I don’t buy it until Kanye says otherwise.

When can we expect the album to drop in full? West recently sat down with Power 105.1 and he claimed that it’s 80% complete. And even when it is ready, a hard release date will not be announced. Following in the footsteps of Queen Bey and Drake, Ye plans on surprising his fans by dropping his next studio album without any notice.

If you consider yourself to be a major Kanye fan, or if you’re simply interesting in exploring the controversial rapper’s mind, I highly recommend you listen to the aforementioned interview in full, here. In it, he discusses everything from his award show interruptions to his design aspirations. When asked to describe his upcoming album, he said this: “My last album [Yeezus] was a protest of music…This album is about embracing the music and embracing joy and being of joy and being of service to the people. I just hope people like it and enjoy it.”

[Stream via 2DopeBoyz]

Kanye West collaborates with Adidas on new fashion line, outs Yeezy Boost & new music

After years of struggle, Kanye West is finally realizing his vision to create a fashion clothing line. It’s true; the rapper’s released sneakers and other footwear in the past. Way before his deal with Nike to produce the Air Yeezys, West teased a conceptual clothing line dubbed Pastelle but nothing ever really came of it. All we got was this cryptic website that still exists today, idle. Now his dream of creating and promoting and selling high-end apparel comes to fruition thanks to a new partnership with Adidas.

The Adidas line is called Yeezy Season 1 and the first tangible product to come out of the project is a new sneaker, the Yeezy Boost. Picture above, the new-generation Yeezy released this past Saturday in a grey-toned color way. The shoe is constructed with high quality full suede with a dynamic strap that wraps across a perforated vamp. West is rolling out his latest creation slowly–only 3,000 were made available over the weekend and in a forward-thinking move, he worked with Adidas to develop a reservation app. Instead of having sneakerheads lineup and fight over the footwear in the cold streets of NYC, a simple app allowed interested parties to reserve the shoe in their desired size. Missed out on that? The Yeezy Boost will see a second major retailer push on Feb. 28 at Adidas flagship stores, among other select, undisclosed locations. If waiting in line isn’t your style, your only other option at this point is eBay; the sneaker, which normally sells for $350, is offered on the auction site for upwards of $3,000. And if that doesn’t stimulate your senses, don’t fret–West has publicly stated that everyone who wants a Yeezy Boost will have the opportunity to buy one…eventually.

Get a closer look at the Yeezy Boost at Adidas’ dedicated portal. Want to sneak a peek at Yeezy Season 1? Jump after the break to watch models work the runway wearing Kanye’s concepts. It’s certainly an eclectic swing. West describes YS1 as “as the world’s first solutions-based clothing line that cherishes universality and timelessness.” Skip to 8:28 to hear a brand new track that debuted at the New York Fashion Week event; it’s called “Wolves” and it features an auto-tuned West, Chi-town up-and-comer Vic Mensa, and Sia. READ MORE Kanye West collaborates with Adidas on new fashion line, outs Yeezy Boost & new music

North West stars in Kanye’s “Only One” music video

It’s fitting just how personal the music video is for Kanye West’s “Only One.” When the Paul McCartney-assisted track dropped earlier this month, West spoke out about how the “stream-of-consciousness riff” came to him; the lyrics are a spiritual message from ‘Ye’s late mother Donda West to his daughter North West (Nori for short). The rapper enlisted film directer Spike Jonze (HerWhere the Wild Things Are) to helm the music video, and it plays very much like a father-daughter home video; it’s adorable and it’s touching. Watch it here.

Rihanna joins Kanye West & Paul McCartney for new ditty “FourFiveSeconds”

When Kanye West dropped “Only One,” an emotional track featuring keyboard improvisation by The Beatles’ Paul McCartney, we knew this was just the beginning. In fact, a press release at the time stated, “[The track] will be the first publicly available recording from what has become a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists.” In a surprise move, however, the next West/McCartney collab comes out of Rihanna’s camp, not West’s. Today the Barbadian singer released a fresh song called “FourFiveSeconds” and interestingly none of the three artists are labeled as being featured guests. iTunes merely reads “Rihanna and Kanye West and Paul McCartney.” Whether the song lands on RiRi’s followup to Unapologetic or gets tagged with “Only One” on West upcoming seventh studio album is anybody’s guess. For now, preview and download the track at iTunes. It’s soft and acoustic, with Rihanna adding a bit of a country flair with her vocals. She harmonizes with West, who again leaves rapping behind here and sings with auto-tune assistance. McCartney strums a cool guitar all the while.

Kanye West releases Paul McCartney-assisted ballad “Only One”

Kanye rings in the New Year with a new track called “Only One.” Paul McCartney (of legendary English rock band The Beatleslook it up, kids!) backs up ‘Ye’s autotuned vocals with keyboard improvisation. The quiet ballad is pretty much the opposite of what Kanye last put out in the world; “Black Skinhead” this is not. In fact, “Only One,” which is what “Kanye” translates into from its Swahili roots, is a very personal song for the rapper. Upon first listen it’s immediately apparent that ‘Ye is channeling his late mother Donda West; she’s speaking to him and his daughter North (Nori is her nickname) in the simple yet powerful lyrics. A press release tells the enlightening tale of how Kanye’s “stream-of-consciousness riff” came to him:

When they played back the recording afterward, something remarkable happened. Kanye sat there with his family, holding his daughter North on his lap, and listened to his vocals, singing, “Hello, my only one . . . ” And in that moment, not only could he not recall having sung those words, but he realized that perhaps the words had never really come from him. The process of artistic creation is one that does not involve thinking, but often channeling. And he understood in that moment that his late mother, Dr. Donda West, who was also his mentor, confidante, and best friend, had spoken through him that day. “My mom was singing to me, and through me to my daughter,” he said, astonished.

If you’re one to buy into the rumor mills, this is the first of many collaborations between the rap icon and the rock legend. West and McCartney recorded “Only One” in a small bungalow in Los Angeles, and some say this is just a sampling of their collaboration. Perhaps McCartney will pop up more than one on West’s upcoming seventh studio album when it purportedly releases sometime this year.

For now, click over to kanyewest.com; there you can hear the new track, croon along thanks to provided lyrics (likely) hand-written by West, and view the single artwork featuring Kanye and his daughter. “Only One” can be purchased at iTunes today.

Kanye West puts his stamp on Lorde’s ‘Hunger Games’ track “Yellow Flicker Beat”

New Zealand singer songwriter Lorde was given the keys to curate the official soundtrack for the latest Hunger Games film, that is, Mockingjay Part 1. She got to handpick the artists featured on the album and she collaborated with them to set a particular mood and tone for the 14-song soundtrack. Two of those tracks were imagined by Lorde herself, and one of them caught the eye of Kanye West. The rapper puts his signature twist on Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat,” turning the rather upbeat tune into a darker and frankly more haunting symphony. Listen to the remix above; click here to watch Lorde dance around to the original version. Mockingjay Part 1 hits theatres November 21, and Lorde’s curated soundtrack is out now on iTunes.

Music video round-up: Bob Dylan & Pharrell Williams create fun, interactive clips; Kanye West gets parodied [Update: Eminem is a “Rap God”]

Forty-eight years after Bob Dylan released his 1965 hit “Like A Rolling Stone” the track gets its very own music video and a uniquely impressive one at that. Israeli director Vania Heymann partnered with interactive videomaker Interlude to imagine a music video experience that allows the viewer to flip through TV channel stations and inside each one TV personalities are lip-syncing Dylan’s song. There are 16 stations to flip through using your arrow key or mouse press; from Pawn Stars to The Price is Right to Marc Maron’s podcast, Dylan permeates through them all without missing a beat. Mash play in the TV box embedded above and see it to believe it.

Jump after the break to watch new music vids from Pharrell and Kanye West. READ MORE Music video round-up: Bob Dylan & Pharrell Williams create fun, interactive clips; Kanye West gets parodied [Update: Eminem is a “Rap God”]