Kanye West had some very simple rules when making 808s & Heartbreak, according to veteran producer Mike Dean (Scarface, UGK, Juvenile), one of the people mixing the LP. First rule: No dummies allowed in the lab.
"He has no tolerance for stupidity, people who don't know what they're doing," Dean told MTV News in a Burbank studio. "He's cool to me in the studio though."
West also had some other laws he enforced in the three weeks of recording in Hawaii. "Every song has got to have an 808 [drum pattern] in it," added Dean, who met Kanye years ago while 'Ye was working with Scarface. "A keyboard part, no typical hip-hop beats. They've gotta be tribal drums. They're all singing."
On Tuesday night in Los Angeles, Kanye held a listening session for music journalists, as well celebrities Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Q-Tip, Jimmy Kimmel, Mike Rapaport and others. (Head over to the Newsroom blog for a report on Kanye's 808s & Heartbreak listening party, which featured 50 naked women — no kidding!)
People there definitely heard the Auto-Tune effect throughout the album. "We were working on the remixes for [
Undisputed Auto-Tune King T-Pain spoke to MTV News a few weeks ago about his involvement in the LP. "I co-sign his whole album," T-Pain said. "I just flew in last night from Hawaii, working. His whole album is crazy, and it's definitely a different kind of Kanye. I mean, as far as 'Love Lockdown' goes, he did that whole thing himself. He just had me in mind. 808s is really all Kanye. I'm just here to keep it from [sounding] adult contemporary."
Common also praised the project recently. "I love it,"
Common said. "Let me tell you, as an artist, you wanna be free. You gotta do what you feel. You can't just cater to the audience. You gotta say, 'Hey, y'all, this is where I'm at.' For him to do an album called 808s & Heartbreak, you know that's where he is at this moment. I heard some songs, and I think it's fresh. I think the people are ready for it."
At the listening party, "Amazing" with Young Jeezy was a hit with the audience, as was "Tell Everybody You Know," featuring Lil Wayne.
"Lil Wayne is singing with a rock edge," Dean said. "He actually sounds a lot like Axl Rose on that track. They bring a lot out of each other. They're each other's favorite MC. Kanye is Wayne's and Wayne is Kanye's."
"Robocop" is supposed to receive Herbie Hancock's magic touch by the time the LP arrives on November 25. "[Herbie] hasn't actually done it yet," Dean said. "He's in France. We sent somebody out there to record him."
Jon Brion — who co-produced West's Late Registration — plays the strings on the album intro "Welcome to Heartbreak." "Say You Will" — which will hit home with the recently dumped — harkens back to a young
As of now, "Heartless" is slated to be 808s & Heartbreak's second single. The video was just shot, but no details have been released about the top-secret clip.