Time to Settle Accounts
January 1, 2015: One two.
The future began today.
When I got home after a New Years in the suburbs, I pulled up “Only One,” the new song by Kanye West and Paul McCartney. I’d read about it on the train and wanted to listen to it with better speakers than my phone provides.
The song — with lyrics from the perspective of Kanye’s late mother Donda — features McCartney on piano, and is as simple a collaboration as these two could produce: Kanye’s vocals, McCartney’s keys, minimal production beyond the auto-tune.
Kanye, I’m sure, wishes he did not have to write this song. His mother died seven years ago. Her death rocked him. And now she’s here, a voice from beyond, beamed from the past.
McCartney, meanwhile, with his role in genre-bending pop production, is an appropriate Kanye guest. For my money though, I’ve long imagined Kanye collaborating with John Lennon, the one Beatle whose career & persona has always struck me as Kanye-ish.
Maybe their personalities would clash, but I like to picture West & Lennon teaming up for fierce political pop, something that blends “New Slaves” with “I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama I Don’t Wanna Die.”
They could find common ground over controversial statements (“We’re more popular than Jesus now…” “George Bush doesn’t care about black people…”) and controversial spouses.
And out would pour the music — strong, angry, melodic, peaceful.
Instead, it’s Paul.
When the calendar flipped to 2015, “Back to the Future Part II” leapt to my mind. But “Part III” did as well, that film ending with Doc Brown telling Jennifer and Marty that “your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has.”
I thought of that as I listened to Kanye channelling Donda with accompaniment from Paul. “Tell Nori about me,” Kanye sings, referring to the ghost of his mother requesting the attention of her granddaughter. “Tell Nori about me. Tell Nori about me…”
Made it ma. Welcome to the future.
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