Paul McCartney has collaborated with some unexpected artists over the years. Whether it’s working Stevie Wonder or weirdly chewing on some celery as part of a song for Welsh rock band Super Furry Animals. Yet, when he was in the studio with Kanye West, everybody was flabbergasted at just how odd the pairing was.
Working with Yeezy is never a straightforward experience. He works uniquely and operates on a wavelength that nobody else can quite comprehend. Look at his creative process for his latest album, Donda, as an example. Ye ended up living inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to complete the record and spent every second of his waking day perfecting its intricacies. When the former Beatle turned up to work with the producer, he was met with a similar set of circumstances.
It was a shock to the system for McCartney when he had to adjust West’s unorthodox methods during their collaboration. Still, it ended up being fruitful as they created ‘FourFiveSeconds’ and ‘Only One’. In fact, the latter track written from the perspective of Kanye’s late mother could be seen as a prerequisite to his new album, where he lays his love for her on full show.
The lack of McCartney on either track led to some discontent from his fans, including Damon Albarn, who later said, “I’ve got a problem with that abusive collaboration. Kanye West trapped Paul McCartney,” Albarn told French publication Nouvel Obs.
“I see Paul McCartney in the video. But I don’t hear Paul McCartney on the track. Before he decided to work with Kanye West, I sent a text message to McCartney saying, ‘beware’, but he ignored it, he does what he wants, it’s Paul McCartney. Kanye West is one of those people who feed on other people.”
From McCartney’s eyes, there was no “abusive collaboration”, and he enjoyed the experience of working with somebody fresh, even if it was a little odd in the studio.
“We ended up just talking a lot,” McCartney later told DIY. “I played a few little things, and one of them ended up as ‘FourFiveSeconds’ with Rihanna. It’s more a question of me feeling lucky that these people are interested [in working with me] and think that I can bring something to it. For me, I feel great. I like diversity.
“We had two or three afternoons where we just hung out together in a Beverly Hills hotel in the bungalows out the back, and he had his engineer and was set up with a couple of microphones in case anything happened,” Macca continued.
“I was tootling around on guitar, and Kanye spent a lot of time just looking at pictures of Kim [Kardashian] on his computer. I’m thinking, ‘Are we ever gonna get around to writing?!’ But it turns out he was writing. That’s his muse.”
When you’ve been in the industry for as long as McCartney has and worked with countless eccentric individuals, it’s some achievement for Kanye that he still managed to perplex the former Beatle through his ultra unconventional creative methods.