Kanye West’s New Songs Aren’t All That New: “When I See It” and “Say You Will (ft. Caroline Shaw)”


A peep from anything remotely related to Kanye West is going to turn heads, but new music from da gawd is even more of a reason to freak out. So when we heard that two songs had just dropped on the “Kanye West” account on Soundcloud, we jumped at the chance to hear the new gospel.

Except… the songs aren’t actually new. “When I See It” sounds like a rough version of the beat he gave The Weeknd for his recent Beauty Behind the Madness track “Tell Your Friends”:

And “Say You Will” is just a reimagining of the opening track of his 2008 Auto-Tune opus 808s & Heartbreak, this time featuring classical violinist Caroline Shaw:

Both tracks sound like b-sides or outtakes from 808s, sporting artwork from photographer (and frequent collaborator) Nick Knight, that, as The Verge’s Jamieson Cox helpfully points out, is reminiscent of a certain New Order album cover.

The collaboration with the Grammy and Pulitzer-winning Shaw is notable, since Kanye has a history of dragging more obscure artists into mainstream pop culture, whether they want to be there or not. Pitchfork’s Jayson Greene made a helpful primer on Shaw and her work, for interested parties. Her contribution to “Say You Will” seems mostly vocal, but the maestro wields her vocal sample with aplomb, injecting a little more human soul to the cold-hearted vibe of 808s. “When I See It” is less compelling; it just sounds like a Weeknd demo.

There’s still no word (or even hint) of SWISH‘s impending release, but it’s interesting to see Kanye dredge up the record whose style confused the shit out of everyone when it was released, but now serves as cultural touchstone for mainstream hip-hop in the years that followed its release. Is 808s Kanye’s “cerulean?”