Despite Kanye's New Song, You Should Still Be Psyched For Swish
At 11PM on New Year’s Eve, while we were all busy getting blotto on André and trying not to trip on the household cat, Kanye West dropped “FACTS” via Kim K’s Twitter, corking a year in which he stomped all over the competition in his freshly-laced Adidas Yeezy Boost 350’s. It was supposed to be an exclamation point for 2015, a song meant to melt faces. But it leaves us… lukewarm.
“FACTS” follows Drake and Future’s Jumpman to a tee. Kanye basically called it a cover. “Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman,” he starts. While a couple of lines break from the mold–“I stuck to my Roots, I’m like Jimmy Fallon”–most of the bars here are basically boasts from one of the most successful men on the planet. Kanye disses his former partner, Nike, while promoting his tremendously successful partnership with Adidas. This leads to us to lines such as, “Nike treat employees just like slaves,” making reference to Nike’s questionable history of labor abuse, while conveniently ignoring Adidas’ terrible track record of child labor, NDAs, and illegal wages. From the man that gave us the thoughtful “New Slaves,” a song about both racial discrimination and corporate greed, it’s not exactly in-depth.
Still, it’s a new year: time to turn a new leaf and desperately hold on to overly-ambitious resolutions. Here’s why we’re still eagerly anticipating Kanye’s upcoming album, SWISH.
Since Kanye’s solo career started way back in 2004, he’s demonstrated a knack for featuring artists before they become huge. From Lupe Fiasco to Arca, Kanye has helped kickstart a bunch of careers. So far, Kanye’s lead-up singles to SWISH have displayed that same ability to pick faces out of the crowd. In “Wolves,” seen here on SNL’s 40th Anniversary episode, Kanye utilizes pop sensation Sia and newcomer Vic Mensa’s swelling vocals behind a minimalistic bassline. Even in its raw, live arrangement, the song is a success, recalling the emotional vulnerability that has made Kanye both a musical legend and an oft-vilified celebrity.
For “All Day,” another SWISH single, Kanye brings Seattle-based rapper/singer Allan Kingdom, Brooklynite Theophilus London, and little-known Brit named Paul McCartney (formerly of The Beatles) onto his banger of a track. How often does an artist get that sort of generational, genre-and-ocean jumping collaboration? The track rides a simplistic, ringtone beat before opening up into an expansive soundscape with operatic background vocals, and, yes, McCartney’s whistling and strumming. We get to hear the song in all its phases, from its sparse melodious demo, to the grandiose end product. This cross-section approach recalls the lo-fi approach we heard on Yeezus, and the track is all the better for it.
It’s hard to believe we’re entering Year 2 of SWISH anticipation. “Only One” was the first track released as a single for the project. The music video, directed by Spike Jonze, is surprisingly understated for the director, featuring Kanye serenading his daughter, North, under a bleak, grey sky. The song is equally somber–it celebrates the birth of his daughter while eulogizing his mother and grandmother. “There’s only one thing I wish I could change out of everything that’s ever happened,” Kanye said that year, while on tour, “I wish that my mother could’ve met my daughter.” No matter how one feels about the song itself, it’s bravely honest and bare for a celebrity that has been through the wringer so many times.
“Fade,” a SWISH-bound track so #rare that it is currently only available as an iPhone video, finds Kanye, getting faded, busting out his new sneaks, and squeaking all over the dance floor. The groovy bassline and 90s-house drum sounds awesome, courtesy of a Mr. Fingers sample, and it will undoubtedly sound awesome-r once the studio version, reportedly featuring Post Malone and Ty Dollar $ign, comes out. *breathing intensifies*
We’ve also heard tracks from SWISH sessions from other artists. Rihanna’s “FourFiveSeconds” is another collaborative effort with McCartney. His simple but infectious instrumental gives Rihanna an alt-country sound, and allows her impressive singing to stand out. Kanye’s closing verse is almost tractor-rap in its cadence. The song came as a surprise when it was released earlier this year, showing that both Rihanna and Kanye can change up genres with ease–I can’t imagine a more stark contrast to Rihanna’s “FourFiveSeconds” than the abrasive and loud “Bitch Betta Have My Money.” With Kanye, an artist people constantly reminisce about– “Why doesn’t he make another College Dropout?”–this song shows that he could make those albums if he wanted to, but he’s too ambitious to stay in the same place. That’s why, no matter the “FACTS,” we’re still pumped for SWISH.
Stay tuned to Milk for more Kanye all day.
Image courtesy AllHipHop.com