So Help Me God. SWISH. Waves. The ebb and flow of Kanye West’s work has a musician over the past several years has been as erratic as his temperamental personality, a brazen creative mind who has the mindset that anything is possible with the right mix of talent, drive, and resources. After releasing polarizing, protest-driven album Yeezus back in 2013, hip-hop has been speculating ever since on whether the world would ever hear the ‘old Kanye’, who was inspired by classic soul samples and his own rise from Chi-town producer to worldwide mega superstar. Fast forward to 2015, a year in which Kanye delivered a diverse set of singles that touched on entering fatherhood (“Only One”) as well as records ranging from a thundering display of braggadocio “All Day” to the somber minimalism of “Wolves”. As it turns out, only the latter of the aforementioned songs will live on Kanye’s upcoming album now titled Waves. The switch from SWISH to Waves was met with reckless controversy (catch up here if you missed it), but more interesting than shots fired on Twitter is the notepad that contains the currently known information about the Waves track listing. Delving into its details ends up unveiling several insights about the album and before February 11th arrives, a preview of what to expect on Waves is only right considering the inevitable magnitude of its impact.
Waves As Act 1/Act 2/Act 3
Before analyzing the names that appear on this now famous piece of paper, the first place to draw your attention to is the listing of Waves as three acts. When analyzing the song titles of each act and taking the already released music/snippets into consideration, it seems that Waves will feature the three prevalent styles that West has been praised for throughout the duration of his career; the fan-favorite vintage soul sampling Ye on Act 1, luxurious and up-tempo grooves that will attempt to levitate Ye back into the ears of the masses while maintaining a gritty/unpredictable mood on Act 2, and slowed-down melodic moments of introspection on Act 3. Merged together by transitions, the three acts are likely to provide organization to Kanye’s story, a life that has mostly resided in the spotlight and an artistic journey filled with many highs and many lows in the eyes of the public arena. With a limitless ambition to bring innovation to fashion alongside a powerful family that is likely to have contributed to the inspiration of Waves, Kanye will not shy away from being personal on this album, all while realizing what is required from an artistic level to receive acclaim in an era dominated by the Drake’s and Kendrick Lamar’s of the game. For these reasons, the acts of Waves should definitely add to the conceptual strength of the album, even if it is tough to predict which sonic realms Ye will immerse into the most.
Long List of Collaborators
Kanye’s previous albums such as Yeezus and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy were filled to the brim with collaborators, not obvious to the casual listener but quite apparent to the fans that choose to dissect liner notes. The recently photographed Waves notepad is jam-packed with names that have been in the studio with Kanye, some of which are well-known hip-hop acts while others are a little less under the radar. To give you a better idea of which artists are likely to be featured on Waves, here is an abbreviated list with a selection of the most pertinent names”
A$AP Rocky: Pretty Flacko collaborated with Kanye on “Jukebox Joints” and he revealed that other tracks were worked on during his time in the studio with Kanye. With similar interests as fashion aficionados and an appreciation for being experimental in their creative process, it should come as no surprise if we hear A$AP Rocky on Waves.
Earl Sweatshirt: Odd Future has shown a genuine appreciation for Kanye ever since their inception, especially ringleader Tyler the Creator. With Ye and Tyler spending time in the lab with previous collaborations such as “Smuckers”, it is likely that revered wordsmith Earl Sweatshirt was also hanging around. We can’t predict that an Earl verse will be on Waves (maybe writing credits?), but his presence on the notepad is certainly worth paying attention to, especially if we end up hearing any Tyler production on the album.
Swizz Beatz: A veteran in the game, Swizz Beatz has linked up with Ye numerous times over the years and he recently tweeted at Kanye that he has a classic on his hands. Since Swizz has heard the album, it is only fair to assume that some of his production will be included on Waves, hopefully in the vein of what he contributed to Watch the Throne on the first half of “Murder To Excellence”.
The Kardashians: You know who they are. They’ve been in the studio with Kanye. They’ve been hyping up the album. God only knows if they have actually contributed on any of the songs, but it is a possibility that has to be considered.
The-Dream: A celebrated singer/songwriter who has influenced many artists of today’s generation, it seems that The-Dream will have some credits on Waves. His presence is most definitely welcomed because a guest appearance by him has the potential to turn a song from good to great.
Mike Dean: Longtime producer/collaborator, Mike Dean is one of Kanye’s right-hand men and he is probably behind the boards as I write this working to put the final touches on Waves.
Chance The Rapper: A leader of today’s hip-hop independent youth movement, Chance The Rapper was recently working with Kanye and the Chicago representatives definitely have a collaboration on their hands. Whether it appears on Waves or not, this song should be filled with positivity and blessings and positivity and blessings. Chance’s youthful energy should inspire Kanye to deliver feel-good music that will be filled with warmth and passionate…hell it may even be gospel.
Drake: Two giants in the game, Kanye and Drake are commanding a huge deal of attention in hip-hop right now due to their upcoming bodies of work. Rumors have been flying around the Internet for months now that Drake is featured on this album and considering the respect Ye has for Drizzy, Waves is very likely to be blessed with an appearance from Toronto’s finest. Whichever song it may be (perhaps the title track?), this collaboration will prove to be a monumental moment on the album.
The Weeknd: The Weeknd did some work with Kanye during the Yeezus sessions, but whatever was recorded has yet to be heard. With Kanye having production on Abel’s 2015 album Beauty Behind The Madness and the two hinting that more material was on the way, The Weeknd’s vocals should find a home on Waves, perhaps on a song that also includes a verse from Drake? The possibilities are endless, but the XO crew has been on social media promoting Kanye’s latest tracks, so expect to hear his now worldly popular voice on the album.
Already known: Kendrick Lamar, Ty Dolla $Ign, Sia, 2 Chainz
Based off what we’ve already heard from Waves with tracks such as “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in L.A.”, Kanye seems ready to reach back into his arsenal in terms of creating music that celebrates his self-proclaimed status as a versatile creator, but also providing honesty as to the struggles that come with the lifestyle he has chosen for himself. And while it’s hard to predict how cohesive Waves will be, Kanye realizes that many people have lost faith in his ability to create music that resonates with the greater populace. It will be interesting to see if Kanye lives up to his own high expectations, but God knows the world will be watching to see if Waves merely makes a splash in terms of short-lived publicity, or makes a lasting powerful statement in musicality that proves Kanye hasn’t lost his Midas touch as one of hip-hop’s most important artists.