While we weren’t, rather unfortunately, treated to the entirety of Kanye West’s highly anticipated follow-up to 2013’s divisive Yeezus during 2014, as the rest of the world was celebrating the dawn of another year this week, the outspoken rapper and producer unveiled ‘Only One’, his latest single and collaboration with Paul McCartney.
As Rolling Stone reports, the somber and heart-wrenching track, which is available to stream via West’s official website or the iTunes store, is a bittersweet ode written from the perspective of the rapper’s late mother Donda, who died in 2007 from surgery complications, and features the iconic former Beatle on keyboards.
The track is reminiscent of the sorrowful, electronic sounds that characterised West’s 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak, with West’s vocals heavily augmented by AutoTune as he sings lines such as: “Remember how I’d say one day / You’ll be the man you always knew you would be / And if you knew how proud I was / You’d never shed a tear“.
Best of all, this surprise track isn’t simply a random one-off for the two music giants. According to a spokesperson for the rapper, via Rolling Stone, ‘Only One’ is the first “publicly available recording from what has become a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists”.
Macca and West reportedly began working on the track early last year in Los Angeles, starting 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”.
“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 reads. “And in that moment, not only could he not recall having sung those words, but he realised that perhaps the words had never really come from him.”