After last week’s tweets (oh, the tweets) about “dragon energy”, ‘Make America Great Again’ baseball caps and his apparent support for the incumbent Donnie in the White House, Kanye West has finally moved the agenda on by returning – albeit briefly – to doing what he does best: making music.
With a new album on the way on June 1, Ye kept up his recent trend of actively demonstrating his productivity by dropping two brand new songs over the weekend – his first solo release in nearly two years.
The pair of tracks – ‘Lift Yourself’ and ‘Ye vs. the People’ – are closely tied to last week’s Twitter storm, which saw Ye appearing to hog every headline whenever he fired off one of his thought-tweets. The arrival of the first song, ‘Lift Yourself’, early on Saturday morning (April 28) had many of his fans frantically clicking through to the rapper’s website when it dropped, with West having hyped it up by initially claiming that the track would give Beats 1 and Hot 97 radio host Ebro Darden “the closure he’s been seeking”.
I'm going to drop a song with a verse that will bring Ebro the closure he's been seeking
The bars ???????????????????????????????????
It's called Lift Yourself
— ye (@kanyewest) April 27, 2018
But, instead of delivering 35 (yes, we counted) fire emojis’ worth of lyrical flames, Kanye decided to troll us all instead by releasing a pile of nonsense – a true shame, given that the obscure, chopped-up soul instrumental itself (of Amnesty’s ‘Liberty’) brings back fond memories of the jaunty ‘Otis’ and ‘Gold Digger’-style production, before then descending into the hip-house screech we vibed to on ‘Fade’.
Yes, that is Kanye West saying such lines as “Whoop-di-scoop-di-poop / Poop-di-scoopty / Scoopty-whoop“. But, hey, at least he gained one fan in this clearly-delighted toddler.
— Cullen Scannell (@cullens) April 28, 2018
Thankfully, Kanye didn’t make us dread his forthcoming solo album ‘Love Everyone’ for too long as he then released the far superior T.I.-featuring ‘Ye vs. the People’, which sees the two rappers having a back-and-forth in regards to Kanye’s recent online conduct (read: cheerleading for Trump).
“I know Obama was Heaven-sent / But ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be President,” West announces by means of an introduction, referring to his apparent desire to emulate the former Apprentice mogul by running for the White House in 2024. T.I. then speaks for all of us as he attempts to keep Kanye’s questionable ambitions in check as he asks: “Don’t that go against the teachings that Ye taught for?” Well, quite.
As another excellently-crafted, sample-drive instrumental plays out – this time utilising the Four Tops’ ‘7-Rooms of Gloom’ – Ye brings up the subject of his penchant for MAGA hats (which, he also reveals, dates back to around the time he met the President at Trump Tower in December 2016), claiming that he inverted its “negative perception” after he “took it, wore it, rocked it, gave it a new direction / Added empathy, care and love and affection / And y’all simply questionin’ my methods.”
T.I. spies Ye’s audacious volley of an explanation from way off, firing back a thunderous drive down the centre of the court with his retort: “What you willing to lose for the point to be proved? This shit is stubborn, selfish, bull-headed – even for you / You wore a dusty-ass hat to represent the same views as white supremacy, man, we expect better from you.
“All them times you sounded crazy, we defended you,” he continues. “Not just to be let down when we depend on you, homie / That’s why it’s important to know what direction you’re going now / Because everything that you built can be destroyed and torn down“. T.I.’s plain-talking clearly wins the day on ‘Ye vs. the People’, but it’s an easy victory given the tide of fury that has come West’s way since last week – and the gloss is taken off it somewhat by Ye’s refusal to acquiesce to his companion’s blast of common sense; instead agreeing to disagree.
The build-up to a Kanye West album is usually a momentous yet elongated occasion – who could forget the seemingly never-ending roll-out for ‘The Life of Pablo’? – but the route to the 40-year-old’s forthcoming eighth album has felt especially fraught and draining. The arrival of ‘Ye vs. the People’ and ‘Lift Yourself’ has at least shown us that the rapper is creatively reacting to the discourse that’s surrounding the Kanye West of 2018, and, while it’s likely that neither track will end up on ‘Love Yourself’, they’ve certainly done the job when it comes to PR stunting for the upcoming new record. I mean, who wouldn’t want to hear more bars like “whoop-diddy-scoop“?
Whatever his actual reason was for dropping these divisive new tracks, Kanye knows that he’s unlikely to lose the majority of the eponymous People for good no matter what he does musically – the fact that he can still pick up 119,000 likes by simply tweeting two words suggests that there’s still plenty of folk out there who want to hear what he has to say. Let’s just hope that, following this latest adventure, T.I. has knocked a bit more some sense into him…