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Kanye West Teams with Paul McCartney on ‘Only One’

Starting the New Year right, one of our fave hip-hop artists jumps into 2015 with an emotional duet, “Only One.”  Following in the famous footsteps of Michael Jackson, Kanye West teamed up with former Beatle Paul McCartney to create a sweet ode to his “chosen one.”

The two came together in Los Angeles for a “simple brainstorming session,” that morphed into Paul riffing on the piano and Kanye sketching the song in a stream of consciousness.  What resulted, according to The Verge, was a sparse but heartfelt ballad from the perspective of Kanye West’s late mother, Dr. Donda West (who died in 2007 from surgery complications).  Kanye’s special mother-son connection is pretty legendary, as mama was his best friend, manager and biggest believer in life.  So in the studio, Kanye held his child, daughter North West, and realized he had never sung these words before.  With Paul on the keys, Kanye channels his mother singing, “Hello, my only one.”

Only One – Kanye West feat. Paul McCartney

Kanye’s website echoes the heartfelt song, showing a picture of him holding North (Nori), next to handwritten lyrics.  Perhaps this is what it feels like to have a child from both perspectives, Donda West’s and Kanye West’s.

Key moving lines: “I talked to God about you, he said he sent you an angel / And look at all that he gave you / You asked for one and you got two / You know I never left you.”  Donda West assures her child from heaven that she’s still watching over him just as she did in life.  Also in her stead, God has sent Kanye two new angels, North and his wife Kim Kardashian. Kim says the song makes her cry every time.

Kim Kardashian Tweets

These lyrics also pierce the heart: “Remember how I’d say… you’ll be the man you always knew you would be /And if you knew how proud I was, you’d never shed a tear have a fear / No you wouldn’t do that.”  In the chorus, Donda West addresses Kanye’s mistakes, “No you’re not perfect but you’re not your mistakes.”  Awww… nothing more reassuring than a parent validating their child – the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.  The ending is a precious moment of transcendence, “Tell Nori about me… tell Nori about me.”

Sonically, the song features minimal keyboard and Kanye’s auto-tuned vocals.  Being such a raw emotional track, I would have preferred Kanye to skip the auto-tune and just let us hear the real. However, auto is his signature.

This surprise track is the beginning of a marriage between Kanye and Paul.  Said a spokesperson, according to Rolling Stone, “Only One” is the first “publicly available recording from what has become a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists.”

“Only One” is available for purchase now on iTunes.

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About the Author


Mic check 1,2,1,2. Not the words you expect to bust out of Orange County, California, but that's where Deborah Jane found her funk. Daughter of Guyanese immigrants, Deborah grew up in an all-white suburb where she was one of the only black kids in her school. (Fun fact: She didn't make her first black friend until attending Stanford University). Hip-hop gave her a voice and helped her discover her roots. Now she is an emcee and writer who both spits raps and writes editorials, TV shows and films - especially hip-hop musicals!

At Stanford, she wrote and produced an award-winning hip-hop musical, Strange Fruit: The Hip-Hopera (www.strangefruithiphopera.com) - now in development as a feature film. Deborah also launched her hip-hip theatre webseries, The HOTT (www.youtube.com/TheHOTTtv), published in Urban Cusp Magazine. Currently, she is penning her first hip-hop album, Do You Love Me Deborah Jane? And do you? She truly hopes you all love her.

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