Perhaps you heard that a new Kanye West album came out yesterday. It’s been getting generally positive reviews. And that Jay-Z just put out a book, also to good reviews. But you know, in the rap game, today’s news is yesterday’s papers. And these two are already on to the next one, as Jay would say.
The next one for them is a collaborative album, Watch the Throne, that they have been recording in France, and will soon work more on in Australia, and complete and release early next year. A first single from the album leaked yesterday. And while it’s probably not a final version, it is—as no one should be surprised at this point—totally excellent. The beat, made by A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, has a late-80s feel, with it’s “Funky Drummer” sample, and scratches and squeals reminiscent of the Bomb Squad and Rob Base. The hook is sung by Eleanor Kate Jackson from the English synth duo La Roux. Kanye has been bringing the best out of everyone around him lately. And now, hooray, Q-Tip!
Kanye mumbles through the first verse: place-holder syllables to mark a flow he hasn’t yet completed lyrics for. He did this with “Runaway,” a month or so ago, and ended up just leaving it like that—realizing, I’d suppose, that it added to the emotional ambivalence that makes that song as phenomenally great as it is. It’s always interesting to get this kind of look at artistic process, I think. (And it sounds pretty cool here, too. It’s like Waka Flocka Flame lyrics, in a way.) But it also serves as an indication of Kanye’s current work pace. And of his confidence, and a sort of intentional transparency that the Times‘ Jon Caramanica wrote about recently. Like, “Hey, Here’s what I was working on last night, check it out.” This is, assuming that its okay with Kanye that this got out, and I am assuming that; I’m thinking this is a move, on his and Jay’s part, while they dominate another week’s magazines and talk shows, to tell everyone once again, that it don’t stop.
It’s hard to keep up. But we should. This is important.