“Hip Hop is over for me,” Kanye declared in 2008, more a statement about his upcoming art than an explanation for his recent behavior. He had just lost his mother to a heart attack and his fiancée to a break-up, and, in turn, had stunned us all with the innovative 808s & Heartbreak. The emotional project, full of minimalist beats, chilled synths and unconventional auto-tune, helped create the Kanye we know and (sometimes) love today — a universal icon, tastemaker and trendsetter.
And now, in 2015, he returns to the album that began his transcendence into god-like status. In September, he performed 808s in its entirety at the Hollywood Bowl. And on Monday, he released two new tracks on his Soundcloud page, one a remix of the album’s opening track, “Say You Will.” Yeah, Kanye has a Soundcloud now, verified by rapper Travis Scott, who posted an Instagram of the track with the caption “It Starts.”
What’s starting exactly? Yeezy season, and hopefully, the rollout of his new album, SWISH. And what a way to begin — with this explosive version of one of 808s’s best, featuring vocals and composition by Caroline Shaw, 2013 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music. The fusion of contemporary classical music and hip hop is unconventional but not unexpected from Ye. And this track is both a tribute to his dark past and a nod to his bright future.