Kanye West has released the first single off of his forthcoming album, which features keyboard playing from Paul McCartney. West’s new solo album is expected to have several contributions from the Beatles legend among others.
As Pretty Much Amazing is reporting, “Only One” is the first result of the two artists brainstorming, with West free-styling over McCartney’s improvised keyboard part. After some post-production, the end result hints at a free-associative Stevie Wonder, with whooshing synths and soaring melodies aplenty.
According to a press release, when the two listened back to the results for the first time, the lyrics took on a transcendental significance for West:
In early 2014, Paul McCartney and Kanye West first began working together in a small bungalow in Los Angeles. The process that would result in “Only One” began with a simple brainstorming session between the two: With McCartney improvising on the keyboards and Kanye vocally sketching and shaping ideas in a stream-of-consciousness riff.
When they played back the recording afterward, something remarkable happened. Kanye sat there with his family, holding his daughter North on his lap, and listened to his vocals, singing, “Hello, my only one . . . ” And in that moment, not only could he not recall having sung those words, but he realized that perhaps the words had never really come from him.
The process of artistic creation is one that does not involve thinking, but often channeling. And he understood in that moment that his late mother, Dr. Donda West, who was also his mentor, confidante, and best friend, had spoken through him that day.
“My mom was singing to me, and through me to my daughter,” he said, astonished.
The small group in the room kept listening: “Hello my Only One…just like the morning sun…you’ll keep on rising till the sky knows your name.”
To some, Kanye’s insight didn’t immediately register. But then he explained: The name Kanye, which his mother had chosen, means “only one.”
And then it dawned on everyone there: Something powerful and undeniable had occurred through the power of music and of letting go. A message had been passed down through generations.
The song is available to stream at West’s website, which also features the rapper’s hand-written lyrics to the song.
The two have been collaborating frequently over the past year on material to be included on West’s as-yet untitled follow up to 2013’s Yeezus, which is expected to have a number of other collaborators as well.
As expected for two high profile artists, both West and McCartney have been very busy lately. Along with Bruce Springsteen and U2, West just played a surprise concert for World AIDS Day in Times Square. He also recently headlined day 2 of the Made in America Festival this September in Los Angeles.
McCartney, for his part, just debuted a video for “Hope for the Future,” which is featured in the blockbuster video game Destiny and contains action footage from the game itself. The former Beatle has also been on the road, playing sold out shows to stadiums like Candlestick Park in San Francisco.