Kanye West and Paul McCartney drop New Year single
PUBLISHED: 1 January 2015
Musical powerhouses Kanye West and Paul McCartney have teamed up in a surprise collaboration to produce a new single released Thursday, "Only One."
The soft ballad, which West said was inspired by his daughter, features the vocals of the world-famous rapper, and former Beatle McCartney on the organ.
The lullaby-like collaboration has been in the works since early 2014, when the two met in a bungalow in Los Angeles, according to a statement from West's label Def Jam recordings.
Kanye West performs during the World AIDS Day (RED) concert in Times Square in New York on December 1, 2014 ©Timothy A. Clary (AFP/File)
"The process that would result in 'Only One' began with a simple brainstorming session between the two, with McCartney improvising on the keyboards and Kanye vocally sketching and shaping ideas in a stream-of-consciousness riff," it said.
The song was inspired by West's daughter North, who was sitting in his lap when he sang to her "Hello my only one."
West said his own mother used to sing those words to him as a child.
"My mom was singing to me, and through me to my daughter," said West, whose first name also means "only one."
Def jam called the collaboration "one of the most powerful and unexpected music collaborations in modern history."
The single was released late New Years Eve, and will be available on iTunes in 119 countries for one week.
Hip hop king West, 37, is married to US reality television star Kim Kardashian. He has frequently paired up with other musicians -- from rapper Jay Z to British rockers Coldplay -- on his albums.
Liverpool-born McCartney, one of two surviving members of the Beatles, continues to play music and tour around the world.
This is the first time the duo have worked together on a song.
Hear Paul McCartney and Kanye West's Emotional Ballad 'Only One'
The surprise new track is the first in what rapper's rep calls "a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists"
BY JASON NEWMAN
January 1, 2015
D'Angelo notwithstanding, there were no Beyonce-esque surprise albums for the end of 2014. But as the clock turned on another year Wednesday night, Kanye West unveiled "Only One," a minimal, poignant new track featuring Paul McCartney on keyboard. The song is available to hear on West's website or via the iTunes store.
Written from the perspective of Kanye's late mother Donda, who died in 2007 from surgery complications, "Only One" sounds like a bittersweet bonus track from Kanye's 808s and Heartbreak. "Remember how I'd say one day/You'll be the man you always knew you would be," West's Auto-Tuned voice sings. "And if you knew how proud I was/You'd never shed a tear/Have a fear/No you wouldn't do that." McCartney, for his part, eschew any histrionics in favor of a simple and plaintive style befitting the emotional lyrics. "My mom was singing to me, and through me to my daughter," West said in a statement, also noting that the name "Kanye" means "Only one."
The surprise track appears to be more jumping-off point for the two icons than random one-off. According to a spokesperson for West, "Only One" is the first "publicly available recording from what has become a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists."
McCartney and West began work on the track earlier last year in Los Angeles, starting with, as the statement notes, "a simple brainstorming session between the two, with McCartney improvising on the keyboards and Kanye vocally sketching and shaping ideas in a stream-of-consciousness riff.
"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."
As Complex notes, West's wife Kim Kardashian called "Only One" her favorite track by her husband.
Rumors of a McCartney/West collaboration began appearing last August, when the two recorded a song allegedly called "Piss on Your Grave" that has yet to surface.
McCartney's Kanye fandom extends back to at least 2013. Asked in a Twitter Q&A for the last albums he bought, the musician replied, "The last albums I bought were by Kanye West, the National, the Civil Wars and Jay Z."
Paul McCartney and Kanye West at the 2009 Grammy Awards. The two collaborated for the surprise new track "Only One."
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage