A common comment about any artist is that they’re not what they used to be, whether or not it’s a criticism depends on your own interpretation. In the Hip-Hop genre though it’s often a way to slate a rapper who has went against his original sound or image, whether it be selling out in order to make more money or throwing away any potential they once had in a bid to be more appealing.
It goes without saying that Kanye often bore the brunt of this. As his image constantly changed, his ego inflated and his sound began to mutate into something that, whilst still remarkable, was a far cry from what we heard back in his debut album The College Dropout.
That’s not meaning to imply that Kanye is careless now that he’s a multimillionaire, despite how abysmal his last single Facts was, as he tweeted “Un momento, there was a slight distortion in the main loop within Real Friends. It will be back up shortly. When it’s back up, all rippers please rip the new one instead.” Once a perfectionist, always a perfectionist I suppose.
The Real Friends in question is the first of two halves that make up his latest track REAL FRIENDS & NO MORE PARTIES IN LA (SNIPPET) which puts Mr West in his most vulnerable position since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as he voices his guilt regarding friends and family over a beautifully tragic sounding beat. Think Aphex Twin entwined with heartbreak.
The song ends with a poignant howl that evokes the same sadness and, in a way, isolation that we have become accustomed to with Kanye’s more personal tracks. Sources say that when the track was first released, the title was missing the word “friends”. In a twisted way, it’s both a relief to hear Kanye sounding the most real he has in years whilst it’s also uncomfortable to witness the inner turmoil he’s experiencing.
What comes next is in stark contrast to what we’ve heard already as we experience Ye’s first official collaboration with Kendrick Lamar whose influence can definitely be felt on NO MORE PARTIES IN LA. A soul sampling Madlib beat accompanies lines about tan stained sheets and raybans. While it may not be as fresh or interesting as Real Friends, it doesn’t feel out of place for Kanye to deliver this sort of song and seeing as it’s just a snippet, it’s left me wanting to hear more.
So all that talk about losing faith in Kanye after his publicity stunts about running for president can be laid to rest. A self aware Kanye is present who is providing the type of music fans didn’t know they wanted but will now beg for in bucketloads.