The infamous Beatle Paul McCartney took a risky move when working with the provocative Kanye West, but the results certainly paid off. McCartney spoke to Rolling Stone on Wednesday about the 2014 and 2015 collaborations.
The odd couple worked on three songs together, releasing the aggressive “All day,” the country-inspired “FourFiveSeconds,” and the touching “Only One.” The songs combine the best of both worlds: Kanye’s volatile artistry and hip-hop experience, with McCartney’s pleasing melodies and veteran status.
“The only deal I made with Kanye was that if it doesn’t work, we won’t tell anyone,” McCartney told Rolling Stone, “I didn’t know his system. I’d heard things like, ‘He’s got a room full of guys working on riffs, and he walks around going, ‘I like that one.’ It reminded me of Andy Warhol, these artists who use students to paint their backgrounds and things. It’s a well-used technique. I thought, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to fit into that, but let’s see. Here goes nothing.'”
The unlikely duo have a core similarity of success and vision, though Kanye’s unpredictability might have caused McCartney some concern. McCartney pinpointed the creative process that helped their interests collide.
The Beatle also spoke of his inspiration for a riff, that become the whistle in “All day.” McCartney got the idea from looking at a Picasso painting “The Old Guitarist.” Kanye’s next album, The Life of Pablo, is another example of their similarities — an admiration for the revolutionary pioneer of cubism.
“Kanye was just collecting things,” he said. “We weren’t going to sit down and write a song so much as talk and spark ideas off each other. It was only when I got this song, the Rihanna record and ‘Only One,’ the three tracks we did, that I went, ‘I get it. He’s taken my little whistle-y thing.’ It returned to me as an urban hip-hop riff. I love that record.”
McCartney was hesitant to call Kanye a genius, a word that is often thrown around the hard-to-grasp Kanye. However McCartney does comment on the core of what he saw in Kanye, and the potential they had to make music together.
“I think he’s a great artist. Take My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I played it when I was cooking, and it was like, “This is good. There’s some really innovative stuff.”
Although McCartney is one of the most famous rock musicians of our time, he still has respect for hip-hop, calling it “the music of now.”
While Paul had John Lennon, and Kanye had Jay Z, the two found a new kind of partnership in each other.
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