Kanye West is gearing up to release his seventh studio album, Waves. The album, which is probably the most highly anticipated release of the year, will serve as the follow-up to 2013’s Yeezus.
Once referred to as a “protest in music,” Waves is set to drop on Feb. 11. West’s sister-in-law Khloe Kardashian revealed earlier this month that he was having trouble cutting down the songs that will be on the LP. However, 17 days later (Jan. 24) he finally released the tracklist. The rollout for Waves has been a roller coaster. About a year ago, new music from outside of Yeezus started rolling out. The Paul McCartney-assisted “Only One” arrived, then came “FourFiveSeconds” with Rihanna and McCartney, followed by “All Day,” “Wolves" and “Fade.” He even announced the album title was So Help Me God at the start of 2015, but then changed the name to Swish a few months later. Third time's a charm for Yeezy because on Jan. 26, he changed the title once again to Waves.
Information about the album has been sporadic and ambiguous at best. He has played the effort for only a handful of people (Lamar Odom, Seth Rogen, the Kardashians, Travi$ Scott and Pusha T, to name a few). In a recent interview, Scott spoke on Kanye's state while finishing the album.
“I feel like it’s going to be like a very good fucking good album,” the "Antidote" rhymer said. “This motherfucker is going in on this album. [He’s] not eating. [He’s] not sleeping. Shit's crazy. It’s lit. He’s just focusing on this album.” According to Scott, Yeezy isn’t sleeping or eating as he finishes the album.
It's been a slow process but the light at the end of the tunnel is finally near. During an interview with L.A.’s Real 92.3 in November, Kanye said that “[Waves is] like a sonic painting, and it gets better and better every week.” 'Ye brought back G.O.O.D. Fridays (kinda) to help promote Waves and for die-hard fans, the best of Kanye West’s songs are here to hold you over until the new album arrives.
Before Feb. 11 arrives, take a look below to find out everything we know about Kanye West's Waves album.
Kanye West posted a photo to Twitter of a handwritten tracklist for Waves on Jan. 24. “So happy to be finished with the best album of all time,” he tweeted. The note showed that the album will feature 10 songs, however, no features were listed. Both “Real Friends” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and “No More Parties in L.A.” featuring Kendrick Lamar will be included on the album. The Vic Mensa and Sia-assisted “Wolves” has also made the cut. The song was previewed last February at Kanye’s New York Fashion Week debut. It made its TV debut on Saturday Night Live during a three-and-a-half hour 40th anniversary special for the show days later. Also making the cut is the Ty Dolla $ign and Post Malone-assisted “Fade," which was unveiled at West’s Yeezy Season 2 clothing line for his second New York Fashion Week Show appearance.
“Only One” and “FourFiveSeconds,” both of which feature and were co-written with Paul McCartney, didn't make the cut (The latter song features Rihanna and has been widely speculated to end up on her next solo album, ANTI.) Also the Allan Kingdom and Theophilus London-featured “All Day” doesn't appear on the tracklist. “Facts,” the Metro Boomin and Southside-produced diss record aimed at Nike, missed the cut as well.
It's also to note Kanye's tweet that Waves is a Gospel album.
G.O.O.D. Fridays Has Returned to Promote 'Waves'
Hours before Mr. West dropped "Real Friends" and previewed "No More Parties in L.A.," earlier this month, Kim Kardashian tweeted that G.O.O.D. Fridays was coming back. “Friiiiiiday!!!! New music!!!!” she wrote, adding the hashtags #EveryFriday, #Swish and #Real Friends. "Real Friends" dropped later that day, just one week after Kanye returned to SoundCloud with the Metro Boomin and Southside-produced “Facts.” "Real Friends" was produced by Kanye himself, with sample work by Frank Dukes and Boi-1da and drum programming by Havoc. The track also features background vocals from Ty Dolla $ign.
However, after the following Friday (Jan. 15) came and went, fans were disappointed when no new Kanye music was released. Kim, who has basically been Kanye's PR team this year, came to the rescue and explained the delay.
“I soooo didn’t mean to lie to you guys about GOOD FRIDAYS coming back. Kanye flew to Italy for a Yezzy Season 3 fitting [sic],” she wrote.“He flew Noah out with him so he could finish “No More Parties In La” & wrote 90 bars on the plane there!!!…This is the 1st song ever with Kanye & Kendrick Lamar! He just landed & headed straight to the studio to finish it!!!”
Soon enough, the official audio for “No More Parties in L.A.” with Kendrick Lamar was released on Jan. 18. Produced by Madlib, the new track is believed to have originated from Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sessions back in 2009 and 2010. Madlib had mentioned in a previous interview that he gave Kanye five beats for the album, and a Stones Throw documentary reveals some of what turns out to be Kanye’s verse here. Madlib had theorized in a separate interview that Kanye either didn’t want to pay him his fee or simply decided not to use the instrumentals back then. The track is the first time Kendrick and Kanye have recorded together, with the two having shared a bill during the 2013 Yeezus tour. One interesting fact is Larry Graham’s “Stand Up and Shout About Love” was sampled for “No More Parties in L.A.” This is important to note because Larry, frontman of Graham Central Station and one-time bassist for Sly and the Family Stone, is also Drake's uncle.
Unfortunately, another Friday (Jan. 22) arrived and Kanye once again didn't release a new song. However, we can assume he didn't drop a new song because he released “No More Parties in L.A.” earlier that week. The day before (Jan. 21), West’s remix of “Black Skinhead” featuring Miley Cyrus and Travi$ Scott leaked on the web. No word if this is an official track or not.
Big Boy of Los Angeles radio station Real 92.3 shared the news on Jan. 25 that Kanye and Chance the Rapper are in the studio working on what can only be assumed to be this week’s belated G.O.O.D. Fridays release.
“Good Friday is running a lil late,” Big Boy wrote as the caption to his photo with 'Ye. “They’re creating something from scratch in here. Not only is Chance The Rapper a lyrical beast…..he’s also a GREAT photographer. Hellllooooo. #Swish #KanyeWest #HandWrittenTrackList #ChanceTheRapper #ItsComing.”
Ty Dolla $ign Is All Over 'Waves'
Ty Dolla $ign is one name that is heavily featured on Waves aside from 'Ye. "Fade," "Real Friends," "Only One" and "FourFiveSeconds" are just some of the tracks Ty created with West for the project. Virgil Abloh, West's creative director, played "Fade" during one of his DJ sets in 2015, treating fans to an advanced listen of the track. Earlier that year, it was discovered that the G.O.O.D. Music leader had a bunch of sessions with Paul McCartney and Ty Dolla $ign, to which the latter spoke on in detail.
"One day my homie Ricky Anderson [Kanye's cousin] hit me up and was like, 'Kanye wants you to come work with him in Mexico,' so I came out there [and] we did like nine songs in one day; one of them happened to be 'Only One,'" Ty told Billboard.
In an conversation with XXL, he explains how he and Kanye connected. "I’ve been knowing ’Ye for awhile," he said. "He just called me in recently to start working with him. I’m very thankful he’s on the album. That’s like having Michael Jackson on your album in 2015. He’s been one of my favorites since he came out. I’ve always been a hip-hop head. I fuck with J Dilla beats, Pete Rock beats, DJ Premier and Madlib. That’s what he’s on, that crate digging and vinyl."
'So Help Me God' Was the Original Album Title
On March 1, 2015, 'Ye announced that his new album would be called So Help Me God. The cover art, which was revealed on Twitter, was originally thought to be a 13th century monastic symbol representing the Virgin Mary. However, the artwork was later revealed to be solely for ‘Ye’s single "All Day."
On May 3, 'Ye tweeted that he'd be changing the title to Swish, although he gave himself the option to change things up again if he felt like it. The title, other than its basketball reference, is a callback to his March 16 Twitter spree in which he began tweeting a series of semi-nude photo of Kim Kardashian, each with the caption, "SWISH!!!"
Eight months later, West decided that Swish obviously wasn't representing his sonic vision and decided to change the album title yet again. The new name: Waves.
The List of Collaborators Is Growing
The names that are included on Kanye West's Waves album sound like an all-star lineup. Paul McCartney, Tyler Bryant, Kendrick Lamar, Madlib, French Montana, CyHi the Prynce, Vic Mensa, Mike Dean, Che Pope, Noah Goldstein, Allen Ritter, Mario Winans, Charles Njapa, Malik Yusef Jones, Patrick Reynolds, Ernest Brown, Ty Dolla $ign, Noel Ellis, Cashmere Cat, Boi-1da and Sia.
Travi$ Scott hasn't been officially named as a Waves collaborator but it's likely he's had some input on the album's creation. There's also no word yet if G.O.O.D. Music artists such as Pusha T, Big Sean and John Legend will appear on the opus.
The rumored collaborators are just as star-studded. Jay Z, A$AP Rocky, ILoveMakonnen, King Louie, Chance the Rapper, Montana of 300, Rick Rubin, Justin Bieber, Madonna, The Weeknd, Bruno Mars and Young Thug are all rumored to have some connection to Waves or have been spotted in the studio with 'Ye.
Since changing the title to Waves, Kanye and his collaborators have been sharing the hand written tracklist notepad on social media. Every artist that was involved with the Waves recording sessions, signed the notepadl. The artists to sign have been Kirk Franklin, A$AP Rocky, Earl Sweatshirt, 2 Chainz, Kid Cudi, Andre 3000, The-Dream, Kid Cudi, French Montana, Mike Dean and A$AP Bari, Chance The Rapper, the Kardashians and plenty more. Tyler, The Creator was also spotted in the studio with Kanye.
Album of the Year Doesn't Cut It
While some rappers may be content with album of the year accolades, West is reaching further than that. On Monday (Jan. 25), the rapper revealed he was completely done with Swish. "So happy to be finished with the best album of all time," he tweeted. A day later, Yeezy let fans know how he really feels about the project. "This is not album of the year. This is album of the life," the "Only One" rhymer wrote on Twitter.