So according to Pitchfork Kanye West held another Donda livestream event last night; so smart. He’s making an album release an experience. It’s been too long since we had sonic fun like that.
Yet one of the songs Jail used to have a Jay-Z verse and now it was replaced with a verse from DaBaby (seems like a downgrade but whatever…).
Kanye has done this for 2 or 3 albums now he never releases finished songs. He’s often tinkering. (Granted Part 1: if it was anyone but Kanye this would be annoying. He’s got the skills and talents to justify tinkering.)
I wrestle with Kanye’s creative penchant for alternative versions. We talk about him like we do every other artist and that’s a lie we’re not all on the same page. A theatrical release is mainstream…we can have a conversation about that because we all consumed the exact same product. We like it, hate it, are indifferent to it etc.
(Granted Part 2: When bands perform a song live they can do whatever…acoustic, duets etc. and that’s dope too. I don’t mind those live versions because…they’re live versions.)
Like I heard 2 or maybe 3 versions of Wolves. I like the song…some version at least but I dunno which version you’ve heard. Or me…I dunno which version I’ve heard either.
Like this is Wolves…
The original album version featured a rap from West and a moody outro from Frank Ocean, which replaced Vic Mensa and Sia’s verses. Ok great.
Then…an alternate version including Frank Ocean, Vic Mensa, and Sia. Unlike the album version, Frank Ocean’s outro is featured at the start of the song, and West’s rap is omitted. Ok sure.
Then…in March 2016, over a month after the album’s release (The Life of Pablo), West updated the album’s Tidal tracklist with a reworked version of Wolves, which includes the previously removed vocals from Vic Mensa and Sia. Ok I’m tired.
I like Wolves but I no longer know which version I’ve heard or like. Or how to recommend and share Wolves with you.
(Granted Part 3: I can accept songs are never finished; they’re “abandoned.” Maybe the revisiting makes the songs better? It’s certainly easier to do since it’s all digital. Band used to put out a physical record…it’s a literal record…it’s sealed. Like court documents. It’s…on the record.)
It certainly speaks to Kanye’s boundless creativity…dude is restless yet he successfully assembled a malleable passionate fan base that will follow him down these dark roads. It’s impressive. And slightly exhausting.
Sammy Younan is the affable host of My Summer Lair: think NPR’s Fresh Air meets Kevin Smith: interviews & impressions on Pop Culture.