S&M Fantasy & Drums

Posted: March 9th, 2018 under CD.

Did you look at my eyes? It was the middle of October 2009. S&M Fantasy & Drums, but this conversation was my first glimpse of what would become My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. If you do, you can’t tell me you’re surprised by what happened.

It was all there in my eyes. 2009 VMAs, one week after the video shoot. Kanye and I had exchanged emails days after the Taylor Swift incident, but between him being inundated with criticism and my own personal distraction—a recently discovered brain tumor, of all things—this conversation, a month later, was our first real catch-up. After I hurried through the uncomfortable explanation of where I was at, the commiserating naturally turned to the major event in his life. Besieged and apologetic—but defiant—Kanye explained the fragile, overworked mental state that led to the outburst, his disgust with the ensuing media storm, and why he’d suddenly, and seemingly indefinitely, gone full ex-pat. Kanye West was over it, he said.

He’d clearly needed a break, and his subconscious had manufactured one. Now, he was all about fashion—red leather, gold details, and recapturing the decadence of late-’90s hip-hop in design. While I encouraged his pursuit since he was so obviously enthused, I confessed that it’d be a bummer if he abandoned music altogether. South of France, due to a seven-figure tax debt that kept them off English soil.

This is about to get reallyinteresting. I can’t wait to play you this new shit! He explained that he’d holed up in Hawaii and was importing his favorite producers and artists to work on and inspire his recording. On a late March afternoon, I arrive at Avex Honolulu Studios, the seaside recording studio on Oahu where West tracked 808s and is now block-booking all three session rooms, 24 hours a day, until he decides he’s done.