Paul McCartney has collaborated with a number of unexpected artists over the years, whether it’s working Stevie Wonder or chewing celery on a Super Furry Animals track. However, when he was in the studio with Kanye West, the world of music was left flabbergasted at the bizarre pairing.
Working with Yeezy is never a straightforward experience. The rapper creates his art in a unique manner and is on a wavelength that nobody else can quite comprehend. Look at his creative process for his latest album, Donda, as an example. West ended up living inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to complete the record and spent every second of the waking day perfecting its intricacies.
It was a shock to the system for McCartney when he had to adjust West’s unorthodox methods during their collaboration. Still, it ended up being a fruitful one as they created ‘FourFiveSeconds’ and ‘Only One’. In fact, the latter track, written from the perspective of Kanye’s late mother, could be seen as a prerequisite to his new album in which he lays his love for her on full show.
However, despite its success, the lack of noticeable contribution from McCartney on either track led to some discontent from his fans, including Damon Albarn, who later said, “I’ve got a problem with that abusive collaboration. Kanye West trapped Paul McCartney,” Albarn told French publication Nouvel Obs.
“I see Paul McCartney in the video. But I don’t hear Paul McCartney on the track. Before he decided to work with Kanye West, I sent a text message to McCartney saying, ‘beware’, but he ignored it, he does what he wants, it’s Paul McCartney. Kanye West is one of those people who feed on other people.”
From McCartney’s eyes, there was no “abusive collaboration”, and he enjoyed the experience of working with somebody fresh, even if it was a little odd in the studio. “We ended up just talking a lot,” McCartney later told DIY. “I played a few little things, and one of them ended up as ‘FourFiveSeconds’ with Rihanna. It’s more a question of me feeling lucky that these people are interested [in working with me] and think that I can bring something to it. For me, I feel great. I like diversity.
“We had two or three afternoons where we just hung out together in a Beverly Hills hotel in the bungalows out the back, and he had his engineer and was set up with a couple of microphones in case anything happened,” Macca continued.
“I was tootling around on guitar, and Kanye spent a lot of time just looking at pictures of Kim [Kardashian] on his computer. I’m thinking, ‘Are we ever gonna get around to writing?!’ But it turns out he was writing. That’s his muse.”
When you’ve been in the industry for as long as McCartney has and worked with countless eccentric individuals, it’s some achievement for Kanye that he still managed to perplex the former Beatle through his ultra unconventional, creative methods.