Photos by Inez and Vinoodh.
Kanye West and Sir Paul McCartney.
Now these are two names that I wouldn’t have expected to go together when I first read that West had released a new collaboration.
And yet today, on the first day of 2015, the hip-hop star released a song titled “Only One” that features McCartney on the keyboard and producing.
Unconsciously written from the perspective of West’s late mother, Donda West, the ballad sends out a message to West and to his and wife Kim Kardashian’s 18-month-old daughter, North “Nori” West. “Kanye sat there with his family, holding his daughter North on his lap, and listened to his vocals, singing, ‘Hello, my only one…,'” the statement said. “And in that moment, not only could he not recall having sung those words, but he realized that perhaps the words had never really come from him. The process of artistic creation is one that does not involve thinking, but often channeling. And he understood in that moment that his late mother, Dr. Donda West, who was also his mentor, confidante, and best friend, had spoken through him that day.”
Though there’s a heavy dose of auto-tune applied to the singer’s vocals, the jazzy chords and organ solo from McCartney totally make up for it in order to movingly relay Donda West’s last message to her son to “tell Nori about [her],” in a song that recalls Kanye’s 808s and Heartbreak album.
Though the release came as a surprise to fans that are still awaiting West’s upcoming album, the rumour of a collaboration had been flowing since it was revealed mid 2014 that West and McCartney had been working together. In the press release issued earlier today, it is stated that “the pair came together in Los Angeles last year for “a simple brainstorming session,” that saw the legendary Beatles singer “improvising on the keyboards and Kanye vocally sketching and shaping ideas in a stream-of-consciousness riff.” It is also stated that today’s single is only “the first publicly available recording from what has become a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists,” which could lead us into thinking we may hear more from the pair in the future.
Simple, sincere and heartfelt, “Only One” is streaming for free on Kanye’s website, and is also exclusively available on iTunes.