Kanye West and Blondie have been involved in unlikely collaborations throughout their careers. Intriguingly, in 2014, the two acts almost collided after Debbie Harry revealed that the group had been in discussions with Ye, but, unfortunately, it never came to fruition.
Blondie have an intriguing history with hip-hop, and the group are responsible for bringing the genre to a new audience when they adopted elements of rap in their 1981 song ‘Rapture’. It was a pioneering and game-changing moment, becoming the first track featuring a rap to top the Billboard Hot 100.
Harry fell in love with the genre after taking notice of block parties that sprung up around New York, which introduced her to hip-hop. Although there had been the occasional track like ‘Rapper’s Delight’, which successfully infiltrated mainstream culture, it was still an incredibly niche sound.
She once recalled: “In the late ’70s, when everything started happening with Blondie, hip-hop was a real eye-opener,” Harry explained. “My biggest epiphany came when me and Chris [Stein, of Blondie, her then-boyfriend] went to an event in the South Bronx, and there were DJs scratching and people rapping live. Believe it or not, this was put on by the police department in a gymnasium! It was a very local, neighbourhoody kind of thing, and just fantastic.”
In 2014, Harry outlined her intentions to step back into hip-hop and revealed she’d been put in touch with West by Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
“I spoke to him on the phone and he seemed so normal and easy to talk to. He didn’t seem like a jerk at all,” she explained in conversation at Somerset House. “Ever since he did the rap song for a cartoon,” she bizarrely added in reference to his cameo on The Cleveland Show.
Harry continued: “It was so cool, funny and smart. It was a silly, ridiculous refrain and Kanye made it cool. ‘No Church in the Wild’ is insanely great, too. It was Anna Wintour who put us together. It would be fantastic to work with him – maybe one day.”
Blondie guitarist Chris Stein sat next to Harry and added: “I was surprised about how chilled and nice he was, because I didn’t know what to expect from him. He was a lovely guy. I listen to the Watch The Throne record frequently and we talked potentially about doing something with him.”
Although there were discussions between the two camps about a possible collaboration, unfortunately, they didn’t manage to make it work. In 2017, Blondie worked with artists including Charli XCX and Blood Orange on their album, Pollinator, and it would have been fascinating to see what they could have concocted with Ye. Seemingly we’ll have to leave this to our imaginations.