wtf is kanye west up to these days?
Swapping sunny Calabasas for a snowy ski resort? Leaked Kendrick songs? Throwbacks to the halcyon days of The College Dropout? NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE.
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Kanye West: the rapper, designer and international man of mystery. Every time we think we’ve caught on to his next move, he throws a curveball out there; either by launching one of the world’s most talked about fashion brands or by tying the knot with the world’s most visible reality star. But right now, after two years of radio silence, we’ve been left totally bemused by what the 40-year-old rapper might be doing next.
Aside from being a doting father to three children who have more social clout in one baby toe than most of us will ever have in our long, drawn-out, un-famous lives, Kanye’s been on a tabloid dry spell. Most of the communications we get from the man these days come through his clever and satirical ad campaigns for Yeezy that play on the swathes of paparazzi that follow him about on a daily basis.
Two years after The Life of Pablo acted as the musical and fashion bookmark in the Kardashian-West crossover era, we’re starting to pick up on whispers of a comeback. New leaks? His collaborators claiming he’ll tap into his College Dropout days? His new record being written and recorded on the snowy mountains of Wyoming? What could it all mean?
To try and make sense of it all, here’s how we can dissect the current wave of Kanye West rumours to see if there’s truth to any of them.
“He’s working on the new album in a snowy mountain retreat”
Right now, in the sleepy town of Jackson, Wyoming, it wouldn’t surprise us if at least 60% of their 10,000 residents were members of the rap cognoscenti. According to eagle-eyed fans on the internet (namely the terrifyingly attentive @TeamKanyeDaily on Twitter), Yeezy has been holed up in the mountainous ski hotspot for the past year or so, working on new music. Though nobody’s said anything official, we’ve been treated to some fan photos over the past few weeks that show Kanye and Kim taking some nice jaunts around town -- a far cry from sunny Calabasas, that’s for sure.
So why is this a definite sign of new music, rather than a simple couple’s retreat? Well, it’s a similar move to the one he made when My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was being produced. Back then, Yeezy rented out a whole resort in Hawaii and invited his closest collaborators to join him. This time around, a slew of hip-hop’s finest talents have been spotted stopping by: Kid Cudi and Nas, The-Dream and Travis Scott showed face, too. Production-wise, people like Wheezy (who’s worked with Young Thug and Lil Uzi Vert in the past) and Grammy-winner Jeff Bhasker have also been spotted checking into the ski resort on IG. To be honest, we wouldn’t be surprised if the entire group had formed a pact to drip feed the outside world hints on whatever is going on there.
It sounds like Kanye is taking a leaf out of Bon Iver’s book, running away from the big city to make music in relative solitude, occasionally inviting his mates over to see what they might bring to the table. Either way, we certainly know one thing: Jackson’s tourist board are having the breeziest time right now, with rap fans and hypebeasts on the ‘gram doing all the PR for the town on their behalf.
“Those leaked Kanye and Kendrick demos prove new music is coming”
The news of leaked music can be heartbreaking stuff for an artist, but if you’re Kanye West and two of your rumoured 40 tracks with Kendrick Lamar make their way into the public domain, you probably don’t consider those minor cuts sacred.
This past weekend, two songs from the kings of contemporary rap made their way onto the internet, much to the delight of die-hard Yeezy fans everywhere. While one was a demo from The Life of Pablo, in which K.dot raps over the beat for Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2, there was a one-minute snippet from an unknown track, titled Don’t Jump. Though they were both swiftly removed from SoundCloud and YouTube. Might they hold the key to what Kanye is working on next?
The fact that these demos leaked now rather than during The Life of Pablo era could suggest that Yeezy’s hard drives are especially hot right now. Perhaps those pesky hackers are seeking gold like the rest of us? Or maybe this is all just a massive scandal orchestrated by Kanye himself to drum up hype around what’s still to come?
When you have a back catalogue of unreleased music as large as his, leaks dropping at a time like this are probably just coincidental; let’s not read into it too much. For now, we should relish the brilliance of a rare Kanye and Kendrick collab, safe in the knowledge that there’s 37 more bangers still to come.
“2004 ‘Polo Ye’ is making his return!”
You’d struggle to find a rapper that’s as ahead of the curve as Kanye. His style evolutions have played a big part in the way young people dress, be it through his hyped Yeezy sneaker collabs with adidas, or the way he brought Riccardo Tisci’s Givenchy growling like a rottweiler into the wardrobes of streetwear kids the world over a few years back. Perhaps that’s why it’s such a surprise that recent rumours suggest Kanye is planning on looking back for his next record.
This rumour stemmed from an interview that Teyana Taylor, the Kanye collaborator and G.O.O.D. Music signee, gave on the US radio show Hot 97. When asked if she was working on anything with Kanye, she claimed that she described his next chapter as “Polo Ye… Ralph Ye”, in reference to that College Dropout era when he famously had a Ralph Lauren polo shirt permanently stuck to his back.
After years of wrapping his rhymes up in cacophonic electro production, could Yeezy instigate rap’s return to its older days -- the kind his original fans are begging for more of now? Could his new music be less Black Skinhead and more Jesus Walks? Teyana is undoubtedly part of the G.O.O.D. Music inner circle, and is as reliable as sources get. But that could also mean she’s been sent out into the world armed with a decoy! What if his next chapter was nothing like The College Dropout, but instead saw Kanye tap into some sort of classical/hip-hop crossover, where he’d rap about his bedroom antics over some Bach?
True or not, we’re into it: resurrecting the old, and tapping into those nostalgic feelings is exactly what fans want these days. We can call BS on all the other rumours -- this is the one we’re 100% here for.
Kanye West’s new music could arrive tomorrow, in 2026, or when the sun burns out at the end of civilisation as we know it. But of course, Kanye will have been cryogenically frozen and will be resurrected as the leader of the free world, carrying a copy of The Life of Pablo’s anticipated follow-up under his arm.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.