"With this album, I am going to be people's favorite rapper," Kanye declared on Friday (June 24) in London at a listening session for his sophomore release, Late Registration, and Kanye -- just how we love him -- isn't short of praise for himself: "I'm rapping circles around people."
Press got to hear a full listening of his album's final cut aside from "We Made You Tonight," which Kanye says he had to keep secret, so he has "couple of surprises for when the album actually comes out."
The new album consists of 13 fresh new tracks and is co-executively produced by Jon Brion. The opening track is "Touch the Sky" featuring Lupe Fiasco, while the following is "Gold Digger," which features Jamie Foxx and uses a Ray Charles sample. According to Kayne, it's the "much-anticipated next single," and a video is being shot in London in the next couple of days.
The next song, "Crack Music," discusses the fall of the Black Panthers and features the Game on the hook, while Charlie Wilson and Tony Williams provide background vocals.
"[It] is called 'Crack Music' and it's one of the more controversial records on there," explained Kanye to a room full of press. The Game brashly shouts on the chorus: "That's that crack music n****/ That real black music n****."
"All the girls like 'Gold Digger,'" Kanye admitted, "But all the n****s like 'Crack Music.'"
Next up was "Heard 'Em Say," where Kanye asks the press to guess the featured artist while listening. At the end, the room shouts out Adam Levine from Maroon 5. "It was fun before I actually announced it to everyone," Kanye laughs as he says it's none of that "pop bullsh**" people expected.
"Drive Slow," featuring Paul Wall and GLC, uses a beat made from a drum loop and is played on four different keys. "This is one of my favourite tracks; that's my 'Big Pimpin,'" Kanye explains. "Bring Me Down" featuring Brandy -- who Kanye says he likes because of her "distinctive" voice -- consists of a "challenging tempo."
"Another one of my personal favourites [is next]. It's called 'Addiction', which is my vote for the second single actually," Kanye says, adding that the chorus is one of the best he's ever made, because "there will never be a better question," which goes like: "Why does everything that's supposed to be bad, make me feel so good? / Everything they told me not to, is exactly what I would."
The next track is the politically-charged "Diamonds" remix, which features the "fresh out of retirement, our president, Mr. Hov," exclaims the rapper. After being played, Kanye says that if possible, he would have "bowed down" and given the beat for "Diamonds" as a "gift" to Jay, "as was 'Encore' and 'Lucifer.'"
"Originally, [the song] was a love etter to Roc-A-Fella; it's a no-brainer," says Kanye. "It's like 'Yo, no one on Rocafella ever used 'Diamonds Are Forever,' the second I found out about it, it touched me in a way that I had to let the rest of the world know. The world is f***ed up man. I'm just one messenger and I felt like God wanted me to deliver this message."
The track 'Celebration' is just that, and Kanye reveals John Legend as the background voice: "I didn't hit the high notes," he laughs, before adding, "This is a song where you need to have a cup in your hand, a glass of champagne, and be celebrating something: a new job, a raise ... guys could be celebrating having just got some good pu***, girls having just got some good d***." Kanye says he likes 'Celebration' because he had a 20-piece orchestra, and got the opportunity to yell out "It's a celebration, bitches!" over it, imitating the Dave Chappelle impression of Rick James. "And that is what rap is about. Bitches," he jokes. "I tried to place my voice where it didn't take away from the music, cos there's so many strings, horns, melatrons, metronomes."
Moving onto "Late," Kanye says, "That's my chillin' in my apartment style ... I was kinda late for this [event]." Following the track, Kanye plays "Hey Mama," which is the same track he has performed in the past, but with a slightly altered beat. Finally, Kanye plays 'Gone', the last track on the album, which features Cam'ron and Consequence.
"People didn't appreciate 50's album, because he gave them so much music," Kanye explains following the final track. "I'm giving just enough. It's like if you're hollerin' at a girl and she's in a car and she's on the way home from the club, don't do too much more talking; you might f*** it up."
One guest appearance that was reported earlier in the year, but didn't appear on the final tracklisting was a feature from UK artist M.I.A. Kanye revealed that the artist actually turned down the opportunity, which the rapper said resulted from her being "really busy."
With an album just short of a masterpiece on his hands, Kanye revealed plans his next album, which he already has titled.
"I made the College Dropout, and now Late Registration. [Next is] Graduation and then what you get after that [is] Good Ass Job," said Kanye laughingly. "Late Registration is basically The Dynasty, and Graduation will be The Blueprint."
"I feel I rap equal, or better, than anybody that's not retired," Kanye added.
And speaking on rumors circulating of bringing Nas and Jay-Z together for a track, the Louis Vitton Don dismissed them by saying, "I think it'll be pretty hard to pull off, but I'll keep at it."
Late Registration is slated for release on August 16.