Exciting… exhilarating… exhausting. Those are a few good ways to describe the current output of Kanye West. The dude just doesn’t stop. Rightfully, fans are beside themselves with joy, while those indifferent to the Chicago MC must be out of their mind annoyed by the constants tweets and posts detailing the latest West-related endeavor. Well guess what? It ain’t ending anytime soon — his new album is still six weeks away, and god knows how long it’ll be before the publicity train comes to a halt.
But accepting Kanye West’s world domination is a lot different than knowing about and enjoying his multiple ongoing endeavors. Thus, we put together a handy guide that not only details West’s current projects but also introduces you to his many collaborators. There are also streams of his new songs, along with some nuggets on what’s to come.
Enjoy/hate/run away/be appalled.
— Jay-Z: Billionaire hop hop mogul viewed as father figure by West. The two have previously collaborated on numerous tracks, including “Run This Town”, “Never Let Me Down”, and “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” remix. They’re now collaborating on a brand new EP titled Watch the Throne. West said Jay will appear on the album as well.
— Swizz Beatz: West calls the 32-year-old Bronx native and husband of Alicia Keys “the greatest producer of all time.” He has been heavily prevalent in the G.O.O.D. Friday tracks and that role will continue for the new album.
— Pusha T: One half of the critically acclaimed Clipse, Pusha T recently signed with West’s G.O.O.D. Music label. Since then, he’s been all over West’s G.O.O.D. Friday tracks.
— Kid Cudi: Considered Kanye’s current protégé, the 26-year-old NYC MC is gearing up for the release of his second studio album on G.O.O.D. Music. He is among the confirmed guests on the new album.
— Nicki Minaj: Hip hop’s hottest female MC. She’s currently signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Records and plans to release her solo debut the same as West. However, that didn’t stop Minaj from dropping a blistering verse on the G.O.O.D. Friday track “Monster”.
— Charlie Wilson: The R&B soul singer and lead vocalist of The Gap Band is signed to G.O.O.D. Music.
— Mos Def: Acclaimed MC who recently signed onto G.O.O.D. Music. He has already made an appearance on the G.O.O.D. Friday track “Lord Lord Lord” and is said to be on the album.
— Common: Actor/rapper who is also signed to G.O.O.D. Music. You noticing a trend yet?
— RZA: De facto leader of Wu-Tang clan. The rapper is said to be heavily involved in the production of West’s new album.
— Raekwon: Wu-Tang rapper who collaborated with West on much talked about Justin Bieber remix.
— Q-Tip: Legendary rapper from A Tribe Called Quest. He reportedly produced at least two tracks on the new album and will also appear on West and Jay-Z’s collaborative EP.
— Madlib: Los Angeles based producer who has worked with acts like De La Soul, Ghostface Killah, Talib Kweli, A.G., and MF DOOM. He is said to have produced five tracks on the new album.
— DJ Premier: Considered on of the greatest producer in hip hop history, the Brooklyn native supplied several beats for the new album.
— John Legend: Piano maestro and much acclaimed R&B vocalist signed to West’s G.O.O.D. Music.
— Justin Vernon: Frontman of the indie folk outfit Bon Iver. West reportedly flew Vernon to his recording sessions in Hawaii where they collaborated on up to a dozen tracks.
— M.I.A.: Acclaimed yet controversial hip hop singer/songwriter who provided vocals on “Swagga Like Us”. She is said to be appearing on West’s album.
— Elly Jackson: Vocalist of UK electropop oufit La Roux. She is also said to have a role on the new album.
— No I.D.: The current President of G.O.O.D. Music is also a producer.
On August 23rd, West revealed his intention to release one new song every Friday night from then and until Christmas. He said via Twitter, “We look at the game completely different now… Its about the fans. No more holding back.” During the London Premiere for his film Runaway, West further elaborated on the project, noting, “it’s an exercise in the power of art.”
West has dropped nine G.O.O.D. Friday tacks so far, include one that wasn’t supposed to happen and another that features the return of Child Rebel Solider. You can listen to them in the order of their release below:
“Power” remix (feat. Jay-Z & Swizz Beatz)
“Monster (feat. Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver)
Runaway Love remix (feat. Raekwon)
G.O.O.D. Friday (feat. Big Sean, Charlie Wilson, Common, Kid Cudi, & Pusha T)
“Lord Lord Lord” (feat. Mos Def, Swizz Beatz, Raekwon, & Charlie Wilson)
“So Appalled (feat. Jay-Z, Pusha T, RZA, Swizz Beatz, Cyhi the Prynce)
Christian Dior Denim Flow (feat. Kid Cudi, Pusha T, John Legend, Lloyd Banks, & Ryan Leslie)
As you may have noticed, many of Kanye West’s current collaborators are also members of his label, G.O.O.D. Music. Of late, the record executive side of West has been especially prolific, signing both Mos Def and Clipse’s Pusha T in the span of a month, and there are rumors that New Orleans rapper Jay Electronica could be next.
The MCs join a roster that already includes Kid Cudi, Common, John Legend, Big Sean, GLC, Consequence, Mr. Hudson, Cyhi The Prynce, Fonzworth Bentley, and Malik Yusef.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The biggest of Kanye West’s current projects is of course his fifth studio album. Titled My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and due for release on November 22nd via Def Jam, the effort will mark the MC’s return to rap and deep cut samples, after trying his hand at singing on the heavily auto-tuned 2008 effort 808s & Heartbreak.
Like his G.O.O.D. Friday offerings, the effort will also be jam packed with guests, including Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Elly Jackson, M.I.A., and Justin Vernon. Also rumored to appear are Nicki Minaj, Mos Def, Dwele, and Q-Tip.
On the production side, DJ Premier, Mad Lib, Q-Tip, RZA, and Pete Rock are all said to have contributed, while Ye will also incorporate samples ranging from King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” (“Power”) to Aphex Twins’ “Avril 14th” (“Blame Game”). At one time, West was also working with a sample of the Broadway showtune “Wicked”, but it is not known if it will appear on the album.
A tracklist has not yet been announced, but confirmed songs included the first three singles, “Power”, “Runaway”, and “All The Lights”, album opener “Dark Fantasy”, and “Blame Game”.
Artwork has also yet been announced, but there are rumors that the above image could be it.
Runaway: The Film
Image via DJ Semtex
To coincide with the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, West created a film titled Runaway. According to the rapper, the 35-minute feature tells the story of a phoenix fallen to Earth, and I make her my girlfriend, and people discriminate against her and eventually she has to burn herself alive and go back to her world.
West stars as the main character “Griffin,” while current girlfriend Selita Ebanks plays the phoenix. Nicki Minaj serves as the narrator, using a British accent.
During the London premiere of the film, West said he hoped Runaway would serve as a modern version of such classic music films as Prince’s Purple Rain, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and Michael Jacksons Thriller. He also noted that the film was an overall representation of what I dream, inspired by artists like Picasso and Matisse.
According to the BBC, the film will receive a worldwide premiere within the next two weeks and will also be packaged with his new album.
West has yet to confirm any upcoming dates, but he did say he’ll tour in support of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy starting February 2010. According to the BBC, West plans to play several festivals as well as a concert outside the Egyptian pyramids, which will be used to cap off his world travels.