[artist id="1230523"]Kanye West[/artist] has been on a rather non-traditional promo run for his upcoming album, due in September: rapping on a fake mountaintop at the BET Awards , chilling with King Tut in Times Square and hanging out at LeBron James’ ESPN special “Decision.”
Earlier this week, West continued his unusual blitz, stopping by the offices of Facebook in Palo Alto, California, to preview several brand-new tracks for a roomful of rather awestruck employees. And he did it a capella while standing on table, no less.
“I’ve been writing new stuff for the new album and I’ve just got a couple raps that I really like, so I thought it’d be cool just to say them for you all,” West said to the audience of cheering Facebook staffers. “All y’all turn your phones off.”
He then launched into a mini set — captured, of course, on YouTube — that featured spoken-word versions of songs reportedly slated for the new album, including “Lost in the World,” “Chain Gang” and “Mama’s Boyfriend.”
“This is actually a bit more like a poem,” West said at the top of “Lost,” a song about love gone wrong: “You’re my devil/ You’re my angel/ You’re my heaven/ You’re my hell,” he sneers at one point, then goes on more angrily, “Lost in the plastic life/ Let’s break out of this fake-ass party/ Turn this into a classic night.”
“Chain Gang” sounds like classic Kanye. It’s a swaggering, boastful tune that features couplets like “My teeth already white/ You gonna make me floss for nothing,” and “They try to tell me aliens built the pyramids/ I swear, life’s a bitch on a pyramid,” which the audience greeted with laughter and applause.
The real standout, though, was “Mama’s Boyfriend,” a deeply personal song about his parents’ divorce, from the perspective of a young West.
“It took me 33 years of my life to write [this]. It means a lot to me, and it’s called ‘Mama’s Boyfriend,’ ” West said, as the room grew quiet. “There’s a lot of use of the N-word, but I’m allowed to use it.”
What followed was West seething at his mother’s new man — “Trying to get to know me, homie just kill the charm/ You ain’t interested in me, you’re just trying to f— my mom” — lamenting how divorce changes the lives of children forever (“We are the voices of our parents bad choices/ The aftermath of divorces/ The kids of bitter split-ups,”) and finally resigning himself to the fact that, as a grown man, he’d basically “become [his] mama’s boyfriend” too.
West blogged about the experience on his website.
“Many times in life I’ve had to deal with moments of doubt,” he wrote. “And as it’s been a minute since I’ve performed any fresh material in front of an audience, this could’ve been one of those moments … but it wasn’t. Your energy was a gift so electric, so genuine, that it really helped me give my best. The energy was so inspiring I had to keep going! I just hope you got as much from me as I got from you … which was everything!”
West’s new album is due in September.
What do you think of Kanye’s new rhymes? Do they make you excited for his new album? Sound off in the comments.