In the midst of tweeting about being a “Free Thinker,” Kanye West is also dropping a new album. The new project is expected on June 1 and was announced by Kanye as part of a full slate of new albums from artists associated with his G.O.O.D. Music label, including Pusha T and Teyana Taylor. Most of the news and clues about Kanye’s own new album have been speculative, but here’s what we do know.
The album apparently has seven songs
In a series of tweets announcing the new album, Kanye noted it would only be seven tracks long. This would be the fewest songs on a Kanye album to date, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll be short and compact or lengthy epics. We do not have a tracklist yet.
my album is 7 songs
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 19, 2018
Thus far, Kanye’s recent media activity has overshadowed the music
Since returning to social media, Kanye has spent a great deal of time championing the voices of right-wing commentators like Candace Owens and Scott Adams, expressing his love of Donald Trump, and wearing a MAGA hat around L.A. He later sat down with Charlamagne for a long, weird video interview, then went to TMZ for an even more bizarre one that memorably involved his claim that slavery was “a choice.” While Kanye has emphasized his right to be what he calls a “free thinker,” his recent rhetoric has been off-putting to many fans and put something of a damper over the impending album release.
The album is (maybe) called Love Everyone
In keeping with the strategy of informally releasing album info on social media, Kanye posted a screenshot of a phone conversation with “Wes” (possibly Wes Lang, an artist and collaborator). In the screenshot, Kanye mentions he needs an album title and that he needs to “forgive and stop hating.” Wes suggests “Love Everyone” as the title, to which Kanye responds, “I love that.” This post is our only clue to the album title so far, though it’s important to note that Kanye has a penchant for changing things at the last minute.
Kanye’s mother’s plastic surgeon might be the cover art
In that same text exchange, Kanye also said that Jan Adams, the plastic surgeon who operated on Kanye’s late mother Donda West, would feature on the album’s cover art. Donda West died of heart disease following her procedure due to “multiple post-operative factors” associated with the surgery, an autopsy found. From Kanye’s perspective, this gesture would be part of his efforts to “forgive and stop hating,” but Adams has notably objected to the use of his image for the album.
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) April 28, 2018
The album was recorded in Wyoming
About a year ago, reports started coming in that Kanye West was recording new music in Wyoming. Info was very scarce until the past few months, when the fruits of that labor were finally revealed with the album’s announcement. It would seem that some portion of the album was recorded in the snowy mountains near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Recording in such a cold, secluded area surely influenced the sound of the record—perhaps Kanye followed the example of his past collaborator Bon Iver and made his own For Emma, Forever Ago.
Here’s a presumed list of people who may appear on the album
Kanye is known as an artist who believes in large-scale collaboration, and this new album shouldn’t be any different. Notable musicians and producers who’ve reportedly made the trek to Wyoming to see Kanye include Travis Scott, The-Dream, King Louie, hot new Atlanta-based producer Pierre Bourne, and producers Mike Dean and Wheezy. Pictures on social media have shown a host of rappers hanging with Kanye West and hinting towards new music, including Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Lil Yachty, Big Sean, Vic Mensa, and Migos. (With the exception of Lil Yachty, most have collaborated with Kanye in the past, either on his albums or on projects of their own.) Most notable of all: A clue on Drake’s Instagram story hinting that he may also have been present for the album’s recording.
It’s the first of two albums
When Kanye first announced a new studio album, he immediately followed it up with news of a joint album with Kid Cudi. According to Kanye, that new project is entitled Kids See Ghosts and will be out June 8, one week after his solo album. It’s not clear whether Ghosts was recorded in Wyoming as well. What we do know is that Kanye and Cudi projects tend to bring out the best in both artists—see 808s & Heartbreak and songs like “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1″ and “Guilt Trip”—so it’s certainly an intriguing prospect.
We have two possible singles
Since announcing his album, Kanye has released two songs to very mixed reaction. On the most recent, “Ye vs the People,” featured artist T.I. acts as the voice of reason, rapping about how Kanye’s recent antics have pushed fans and supporters away, while Kanye responds by defending his right to express himself. The track also received a somewhat awkward behind-the-scenes video. The other new song, “Lift Yourself,” is a Kanye version of a Rickroll: It builds and builds until he just starts rapping “poopity scoop” over and over again—amusing, but not what anyone wants from a Kanye album. While both songs feel like throwaways, we can’t yet rule them out either, so it’s just as fair to assume that at least “Ye vs the People” could make an appearance.
We don’t know what to expect, probably by design
With all the controversy Kanye’s stirred up since returning to Twitter, we still have no real clue what to expect from a Kanye West album in 2018. He’s talked about his love for Trump and worn a MAGA hat, but he’s also rapped about “white dominance.” “Ye vs the People,” if it does appear on the album, hints at a West who’s actively engaging in the conversation and criticism. Kanye in his music has always been more self-aware than Kanye the person, but given the anxiety that his new, alt-right-leaning views will worm their way into the music, it’s not hard to see why there’s such a strong fervor to believe that all this political trolling is some kind of performance art.