Maybe you missed our good friend Kanye West perform his new single “All Day” at last week’s BRIT Awards. Maybe you’ve intentionally avoided it after finding this year’s earlier singles to have fallen flat. Maybe you just haven’t gotten around to it. I was some combination of all of these until last night, when I made the Right Choice and decided to give it a listen. AND I DARE YOU TO ASK ME HOW LONG I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO IT TODAY. [Morning-after edit: Full-length streams seem to be scarce right now! What a tease, that Kanye West… I guess maybe once the Steve McQueen-directed video drops we’ll be back in business.]
Now, I’m in Kanye’s corner all the way, but he’s had me a little on edge this year (which he started off by releasing “Only One” on his blog and iTunes). And it was a cute story and all, and there was the ooooh, ahhhh, Paul McCartney factor but… It was solid “Meh” status. I sort of rejected the notion that “FourFiveSeconds” would find its way onto the new Kanye album, as it just makes wayyyy more sense to me as a Rihanna song, but I guess if he’s going for “cookout” music? I guess I can imagine hearing that at a cookout? I was excited for a Sia collab and “Wolves” seemed like a step in at least a more sensible direction after a couple listens, but I guess I was still waiting for that ‘banger’.
My first reaction was that– with a notable absence, of course– it might be what “Ni**as In Paris” would’ve sounded like if it had been on Yeezus. (And indeed, Kanye’s alluded to having channeled Jay while writing it. [Whoa, that interview’s from last July! Yeezy’s been holding out on us!]) And I guess the early reference to the proverbial “shit” being “cray” makes that an easy comparison but it’s also got the same self-aware (and almost silly, like when he refers to the AllState guy as “fake Denzel” ) bravado and a nearly as infectious a beat.
(The other song I keep finding myself reminded of is this sweet 2008 jam but maybe that’s something I should rather keep to myself…) The pop-culture references are plentiful and amusing, the hometown pride is clear, and he even finds a couple occasions on which to brag about his wifey (and the extraordinary resell value of his namesake sneakers). Ye’s back!
And let’s not overlook Allan Kingdom‘s refrain. It’s just… really nice poetry? “I took a young, sweet breath/and reached into my head/gave him what I had left/at that moment I dispersed.” Kingdom is an up-and-coming Canadian rapper who’s done work with Kid Cudi’s producer, Plain Pat.
And of course our buddy Paul McCartney pops in to show off his whistling chops there at the end. Didn’t you hear Kanye West is practically a Beatle by now?