Halfway through his monstrous 90-bar verse, Kanye spits, “I know some fans who thought I wouldn’t rap like this again / But the writer’s block is over, emcees cancel your plans.” He isn’t kidding.

“No More Parties in L.A.,” originally teased at the tail-end of his last release “Real Friends,” is many things. It’s Kanye’s exhaustion with plastic L.A. life. It’s the reveal of the long rumored Kendrick collaboration. It’s a renewed jab at Amber Rose (after all these years!). It’s a reminder that Kanye really can’t stand that goddamn laptop thief of a cousin.

But above all, this is the return of a man who wants (needs) to prove himself. Yeezus, while critically acclaimed for production and experimentalism, was by no means Kanye’s best rapping. His screaming on “I Am a God” was arguably more powerful than its verses, and there were lines throughout the album like “In a French-ass restaurant / Hurry up with my damn croissants.” Humorous, yes, but not always in the right way.  

It always takes audacity to invite the lyrical king of rap onto your track. There’s the risk — perhaps the expectation — that Kendrick will eclipse whoever’s track he graces. Who else was even on “Control”? It’s almost naïve of Kanye, or any modern rapper, to think they could handle or even match him. But Kanye takes on the challenge with not just a fervor, but absolute fire, reminding us that there are still other kings who reign.  

The result is a stunning tag-team track that manages to run over six minutes in just two packed verses. It’s strikingly old-school — and that goes beyond the Madvillany-evoking production by Madlib himself. The tight and lengthy verses recall ’90s and early ’00s hip-hop classics, where hooks are subservient to bars and production accompanies rather than controls. That killer Kendrick line from “Hood Politics” is hovering in the air: “Critics want to mention that they miss when hip hop was rappin’ / Motherfucker, if you did, then Killer Mike’d be platinum.” It’s not just Killer Mike who’s repping tradition.

And of course it ends with a swish.

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