FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

Deep Ass Questions

This Time Tomorrow We Will Know the Ultimate Kanye West Song

We spoke to the Toronto housemates on the search for the most important Kanye cut

I have a lot of heated discussions about Kanye West. I constantly find myself defending any number of his tracks, albums, interviews or life decisions to a tide of people, some who know his music and don’t like it, and some who have never listened to any of it (see you in the comment section guys!)

The best of these conversations, however, come about when I go head to head with another hardline Yeezy fan. Finally I can stop talking about Taylor Swift and Beck, and instead set about justifying the “Bound 2” video as a piece of post-Americana visual art or get into the nitty gritty of whether “Hey Mama” or “Only One” is the ultimate Donda tribute. Two writers from Toronto, Sal Patel and Kyle Fulton, were having just these conversations and fortunately for them they were housemates, so they were able to chew the fat over their cereal. “Hold My Liquor” or “Hell of a Life”? “Touch the Sky” or “The Glory”? It was from these dialogues that the Rosewood Bracket was born.

Annons

The project is a sort of Yeezy Think Tank, pitting the prime cuts of Kanye’s discography against one and another. It is a mammoth task and one that has involved a team of twenty writers, each one tackling a clash of heavyweights, defending tracks from the selection of 9 albums (including Watch the Throne, Cruel Summer and G.O.O.D. Fridays). The debate has been spread across a huge online chart, a bit like the one your dad cuts out of the newspaper for you every World Cup; its goal: to decide the GOAT Kanye West song.

Having been working on the project for weeks, they have managed to whittle it down to two tracks: “Runaway” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”. Both songs that showcase the highs and lows of Yeezy’s ego. Two absolute titans. Interested to hear more about the process, and completely riled that “I’m In It” wasn’t even on the list, I decided to give the creators a call, before they announce the winner on G.O.O.D. Friday.

Noisey: Yo. Can I start by saying how nice it is to be discussing Kanye in a hater free environment?
Sal Patel: Oh definitely. It’s just the way though. People who like Kanye feel the need to share that, and people who don’t like Kanye also feel the need to share that. A lot of haters come around. Sometimes very close to home - my own mother was questioning us.
Kyle Fulton: She was super critical.

So where did this beautiful idea come from?
Sal: We have always talked about Kanye endlessly, ranking albums and ranking songs. Then we saw an attempt to do a smaller version of the Rosewood Bracket online, and it got us thinking. As we read through it, while we were blown away by the ambition but we thought there was a way of doing it where we showcased a bigger part of his discography and represented a more diverse variety of opinion. So that was got us moving.
Kyle: We also happen to have a lot of friends who love Kanye, so he comes up a lot in conversation. We instantly had like 20 people who could collaborate, people who love Kanye and were also really good writers.

Annons

There are some horrible clashes in there. Are you all still friends?
Kyle: There were definitely a couple of occasions where we asked someone to submit an annotation and they couldn’t because it was just too out of line with what they thought. The set up lends itself to disagreement and clashes, and obviously people are going to look at the bracket and concentrate on the upsets because that is the most exciting part. But really this was more about celebrating his body of work.
Sal: Most of our writers often thought it was more important to pay tribute to the “loser” in each clash, as opposed to defending the winner. We love all these songs. Then there were the songs that inevitably had to be left off the bracket entirely - those were painful decisions.

Yeah, where the fuck is “Hell of a Life”?
Kyle: That was the most difficult part - particularly given how we had structured it chronologically. Leaving “School Spirit” off, or “Devil With a New Dress”. Sometimes we hear the feedback and I think “I know, I still don’t know how that happened!”

While we are disagreeing, I fail to see how “Blame Game” beats “Monster”.
Kyle: Sal’s going to defend this one because he does a good job of it. This one comes up a lot.
Sal: Yeah we had a long discussion about this one. I think that “Blame Game”, in the back canon of vulnerable Kanye songs, “Blame Game” is rare. He sings without auto-tune and you hear a real nakedness in his voice. Also the cultural significance of that outro. I think people forget how big “Yeezy taught me” was. Oh and the problem with Monster, its weakness, is one of the worst Jay Z verses ever.

Annons

Goblin, ghoul, a zombie with no conscience?
Kyle: Yeah, we should be trying to forget that.

Okay, what about “Through the Wire” getting bumped out in the first round. That’s pretty out there.
Kyle: We constantly return to “Through the Wire” whenever we have a little existential crisis.

I actually agree with your decision.
Kyle: There are so many songs on College Dropout and Late Registration, almost twice as many as on his other albums, so it was already crowded. I think I was a huge advocate for “Family Business”, because I think it shows a different kind of vulnerability that he actually hasn’t shown since. He is often self-depreciating and questioning himself, but its normally in such an insanely earnest way. There aren’t many tracks where he does it in such a hilarious way. I feel that “Through the Wire” introduced the Kanye of the moment, whereas “Family Business” was introducing us to a future Kanye.

Were there any really easy decisions?
Kyle: So, one, that we kept in because of its cultural impact, but I’m totally fine with saying I hate…“All of the Lights”, I think it is a terrible song. I was so happy to knock that out. I know this will get a terrible backlash, but “All of the Lights” is definitely one of my worst Kanye songs - a blemish on an otherwise near perfect album.
Sal: I don’t have as intense feelings about “All of the Lights”. I would say “Bad News” on 808s is maybe a lower moment. Oh and “Drunk and Hot Girls” is a a career low.

Annons

What are you going to do when he drops So Help Me God. Isn’t going to ruin the whole diagram?
Sal: When we first kicked this off, it felt like it was already Yeezy season. He was all over the media, doing those performances in the UK, it felt like he could be dropping So Help Me God any second. So we did discuss how we would readjust to integrate a new record. I think it is something we would definitely do.
Kyle: We have a joke that what ever wins the bracket, then has to go up against “All Day”, and then “All Day” will win.

Would you consider doing this type of project with another artist?
Sal: A lot of people have suggested we should do a Drake bracket next. I think part of that is to do with us being in Toronto, Drake’s home, and there is a lot of interest in his music.
Kyle: It definitely wouldn’t be as effortless as it was with Kanye. This was a tough project to do in terms of elimination, but it was also a joy to do because we were so passionate about his body of work. This was the culmination of years spent talking about him, his output, his cultural significance. I can’t think of another artist that it would be this easy with.

So finally, we are down to two tracks, “Runaway” and “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”. Do you have a winner?
Kyle: The winner has been decided, it was super tough. Sal and I are in the process of finishing the annotations for the last two.

I totally know what is going to win.
Sal: Yeah?
Kyle: What do you think it is?

Annons

"Runaway".
Kyle: Interesting.

Am I right?
Kyle: Everyone will know on Friday.

Shit.

Find out the results tomorrow here.

Follow Angus on Twitter.