A few weeks back, Kanye West decided that every Friday, he would release a brand spanking new song, each one littered with massive guests (Jay Z, RZA, Pusha T, Nicki Minaj, Justin Vernon [aka Bon Iver]), in a series he calls G.O.O.D. Fridays. So far, six tracks have been released (seven if you count his wtf-worthy remix of Justin Beiber’s “Runaway Love,” featuring none other than Raekwon). Here’s a word or two on each of them, so far:
1) “Power (Remix)” – Featuring Jay-Z and Swizz Beatz
The original track, “Power,” is actually not a new song, but the first comeback track Kanye released a few months ago. The set-up is still the same: it’s classic Kanye, going fucking nuts, but the main point of interest is that the song is based around a sample of King Crimson’s “21th Century Schizoid Man.” This is Kanye at his best, an it has one of his best lines yet (“I’m on my Van Gogh, I don’t hear shit.”)
2) “Monster” – Featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Bon Iver, and Nicki Minaj
First thing’s first: When I say Bon Iver, I mean the guy who locked himself in a cabin and recorded the reserved folk-breakup-album For Emma, Forever Ago. On a Kanye West track? Why the hell not? It’s not the only one (he’s on another track that will be on Kanye’s new album). “Monster” is arguably the best example possible of how Kanye has, by no means, lost his ability to make true fucking hip-hop, which some argue may have been lost to the autotune heavy 808s and Heartbreak. It’s also arguably the best of the GOOD Friday tracks released so far, with flawless verses from everyone involved, and a show-stealing performance from Nicki Minaj, who spends a minute demonstrating why and how she will be destroying everyone in her path for years to come. Standout line: “I’m living the future so the presence is my past/My presence is a present, kiss my ass.”
3) “Devil In A New Dress”
“Put your hands to the constellations/the way you look is a sin/you my sin-sation” begins “Devil In A New Dress,” the shortest GOOD Friday track so far, and completely free of guest stars: it’s just Kanye over a sultry sample. It’s one of his sexiest songs to date; fairly bare-bones and free of flash. It’s wonderful, in short.
4) “Good Friday” – Featuring Common, Pusha T, Kid Cudi, Big Sean, and Charlie Wilson
Reminiscent of Graduation show stealer “The Good Life,” “Good Friday” is built atop a breezy piano line and deep beat, though it lacks the propulsive air of ecstatic joy that fueled “The Good Life.” Regardless, full marks are given to everyone involved for putting forth their A-game for a breezy, no pressure track. It’s extremely joyful, and though it feels less essential than “Monster” or the newest track “So Appalled,” it’s definitely worth the multiple listens it takes to sink into it.
5) “Lord Lord Lord” – Featuring Mos Def, Swizz Beats, Raekwon, and Charlie Wilson
Just like “Devil In A New Dress,” “Lord Lord Lord” is built around a sultry, club ready beat, and shows exactly what Mos Def showed us on last year’s The Ecstatic: just because he’s yet another rapper-slash-actor doesn’t mean he’s going to let go of his perfect rapping abilities. He’s the flip side of stream-of-consciousness rapping, and it always a pleasure to hear. Kanye almost takes a backseat to everyone else involved in the track, even though he provides yet another hilarious line partway through: “If I’m a douche, then put me in your coocie.” The track wanders a little too much, but it’s well worth it for the ability to hear Raekwon slightly out of his element of dropping bombs over muddy beats: his flow, here, is downright sexy.
6) “So Appalled” – Featuring RZA, Jay-Z, Pusha T, Swizz Beats, and Cyhi The Prince
Bjork, whether you like it or not, influenced the nature of the beat in popular music. The spine of any given Bjork track has always been based around an ethereal, mud-caked beat that almost lives and breathes of its own accord. There are two places her influence is seen in popular music this month: Sufjan Stevens’ The Age Of Adz, and “So Appalled,” which is a comparison I know that none of you thought you’d ever hear. The track is foreboding and the polar opposite of “Good Friday,” in that it’s as serious as anything RZA’s day job (you know: Wu-Tang Clan) has ever put out, even with the free-flowing verses and muddy beat. Cyhi The Prince gets the pleasure of delivering the best line on the track: I met this girl on Valentine’s Day, fucked her in May/She found out about April, so she chose to march.” It’s plain and simple awesome, and if Kanye were to release an entire record that sounded like this, I’d line up to get my copy.
All of the G.O.O.D. Friday tracks can be downloaded for the price of an email address over at Kanye West’s blog, or by simply clicking right here. New songs will be posted every Friday for the foreseeable future.