Kanye West's new album single-handedly brought hip-hop to Wyoming.
It's about that time. By now, everybody is well aware that Kanye West has been working on a new project. Optimists believe it's destined for a 2018 release. Skeptics feel like 2019 is more likely. Either way, there exists is one universal truth. A new Kanye West project is in the process of being created. This we know.
Admittedly, information is scarce; Kanye has never been one to broadcast his creative process, like many current-generation rappers are wont to do. Still, we have compiled a decent amount of information throughout the past year or so. While our findings don't exactly reveal the nuances of Ye's upcoming musical direction, they do shed some light one what we might be able to expect.
No More Parties In LA
Sometimes, one must disappear from the world in order to become transcendental. Like a Monk on a quest to perfect the exalted art of mediation. Or a writer determined to embody the archetype of a lonely, depressed, and brilliant genius. As it were, Kanye West decided it was time to refresh, and decided that his creative process would be best suited to the frosty temperatures of Wyoming. In May 2017, Kanye was reported to have commenced what many have come to call the Wyoming Sessions.
Following the relocation, a source from Page Six likened the process to the My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sessions, which unfolded in Hawaii: “That’s his pattern. It’s what he always does. He goes away. He’s done Hawaii, Mexico, Paris, Malibu. It’s what he’s always done. He’s not in some ‘struggle’ to find his creative voice. Any creative endeavor he’s done, there’s a start to the process and he wants to figure out what he talks about. It’s a creative journey every time and he starts from scratch."
Since then, Kanye’s Wyoming adventure has attracted plenty of attention; the mysticism and whimsy of the whole thing make for a compelling narrative. Now, in March 2018, Kanye continues to work on and off in Wyoming. Whatever happens, it’s clear that the spirit of Wyoming will be entrenched within his upcoming album.
We already know Kanye West is legendary, and his collaborative, all-hands-on-deck songwriting process has guaranteed consistent sonic evolution. Not only has he worked with rap icons like Jay-Z, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar, but indie gods like Justin Vernon and Ezra Koenig have also benefited from Kanye’s wide-ranging influence. In short, the man is a visionary, and throughout his storied career, Ye has amassed a respectable roster of trusted collaborators.
With Wyoming established as the locale o' choice, it was only a matter of time before a cavalcade of hip-hop heavyweights began touching down. Here are some of the names suspected to be contributing to Kanye’s upcoming album:
Drake: Drizzy’s photographer snapped a few IG pics with a heavy-emphasis on snow-covered mountains; a Wyoming staple through and through. A TMZ report also claimed Drake and Ye were staying at the same hotel, along with an engineer, songwriter, and “a ton of audio and recording equipment.”
Lil Uzi Vert: The “XO Tour Life” rapper has also been rumored to be in Wyoming for the recording process. Little is known about his involvement, though he is on record confirming that he and Kanye have “hella shit” stashed in the vault.
Kid Cudi: Cudi was spotted alongside Nas in the aforementioned photograph, It seems inevitable that Kanye and Cudi have plenty of heat in the stash, as rumors of collaborative projects have been lingering for a minute. Not only was Cudder spotted in Wyoming, but he was previously seen with Kanye and Plain Pat last July, outside a L.A studio.
Pi’Erre Bourne: The “Magnolia” producer was spotted in the wilderness alongside A$AP Bari. Somebody clearly forgot to tell them to pack boots.
Wheezy & Mike Dean: Both producers were spied by TeamKanyeDaily. Wheezy seems to be enjoying some fresh air mountain air, while Mike Dean shared an image of his studio set up.
King Louie: King Louie has reportedly been holding it down in Wyoming, which suggests a heavy presence on Ye’s upcoming record.
Pusha T: Not only has Pusha T been frequently visiting Kanye’s mysterious Wyoming compound, but he has reportedly been paying a pivotal role in the writing process.
G.O.O.D Music’s Tony Williams, producer WondaGurl, songwriter Jeff Bhasker and rapper Plain Pat have also been sighted in Wyoming.
Migos have been reportedly cooking up some music with Kanye. In fact, Quavo described them as having a "stash" of unreleased material. Not only have they been spotted together in Los Angeles, but Quavo also alluded to a mysterious "crazy compound with all the top secret shit go down." Could said compound be in Wyoming?
In January 2018, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, and Dave Chappelle were revealed to be working on an as-of-yet revealed Kanye West collaboration. It’s entirely possible that Ye’s new album may very well yield a BlackStar reunion.
I Miss The Old Kanye
Kanye West’s personal style has often reflected his mindset. From the humble, wide-eyed earnesty of the College Dropout-era polo, to the lavish “I-Am-A-God” ostentation of the infamous Horus Chain, Ye’s fashion choices are as eclectic as his music. And while the “Old Kanye” has long since evolved, Teyana Taylor seems to think that Yeezy is heading back to basics.
The singer spoke with Hot 97 about Kanye’s creative headspace, and claimed that he was sounding an awful lot like “Polo Ye.” He was so excited, we did one song where he just did the beat,” explains Teyana. “He was banging on the desk and the mic was right there and I was just singing to what he was banging on the desk. Shit was crazy.”
Though she was in fact referring to his work on her upcoming album, Teyana’s anecdote (thirty-nine minutes in) speaks volumes about Kanye’s current mindset. He once rapped on “Power,” “my childlike creativity, purity and honesty is honestly being crowded by these grown thoughts.” Perhaps the grown thoughts have finally abated, and he can once again find solace in the whimsical process of music-making.
Like Thor and Loki, Kanye and Jay-Z have been nursing an uneasy relationship of late. After Jay took a few shots at his Watch The Throne collaborator on 4:44's "Kill Jay-Z," many wondered if Kanye would issue a response on wax. According to Mal of The Joe Budden Podcast, Kanye intends on doing exactly that. Mal spoke of a conversation he had with Kanye, in which the topic of Jay's lyrical slights were broached. While it's admittedly not much to go on, Mal claimed that Ye "said he’s got a few words in response to what Jay had on “4:44″ when his next record is coming out.”
He also opens up about Kanye's tone during the exchange. "He wasn’t smiling. He was smiling before that conversation started. He said some funny shit. He said, ‘Yeah man, I was next to Jay for years standing right next to him – why he didn’t give me them jewels he put on the album?'”
While rumors of a reconciliation continue to swirl, it's unclear whether or not Kanye will change his energy. After all, the conversation with Mal took place in July of 2017, when the wounds were still fresh. Either way, it wouldn't be surprising to see Kanye address his falling out with Jay; guess we'll have to wait and see.