Kanye always did sound good over a soul beat. But here, cruising over one of the most soulful artists to recently emerge, Sam Smith, he sounds especially heartfelt, magical and sage.
The mash-up is remixed by artist Carlos Serrano, and is called “Tell Me I’m The Only One.”
“Tell Me I’m The Only One” Kanye West x Sam Smith
Mr. Serrano, who has a whole SoundCloud page of creative mash-ups, layered Kanye West’s aggressive “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” over Sam Smith’s melancholy “I’m Not The Only One.”
We open with Sam’s simple piano riff which gives Kanye’s typical bravado a little more reflection, a little more nostalgia. Kanye sounds especially intimate as he raps, “I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven / When I awoke, I spent that on a necklace.” In the original version, Kanye confesses his battle with materialism, and the pressure he feels over the media scrutiny of his persona, then rips straight into battle-mode on the chorus, “La, la, la, la wait till I get my money right / La, la, la, la then you can’t tell me nothing right?”
But in Carlos’ mash-up, Kanye’s words are paired with Sam’s painful chorus (originally about being the victim of a faithless lover), “You say I’m crazy, ‘cause you don’t think I know what you’ve done / But when you call me baby, I know I’m not the only one.” The effect? Sounds as though Kanye is talking to himself in the mirror. Now a moody tune, it feels like Kanye is chastising himself, which makes his earnestness come off all the more endearing and heartfelt. Sam also brings a philosophical wisdom to the whole song.
Now, despite what people might think, Kanye is usually painstakingly earnest and heartfelt, but sometimes his blustered ego gets in the way of his honesty. Paired with the more down-and-out Mr. Smith, all that hidden truth and pain becomes very clear. Stand out lines: “My momma couldn’t get through to me / The drama, people suing me / I’m on TV talking like it’s just you and me.” And “Don’t ever fix your lips like collagen / And say something when you gon’ end up apologing.”
Sonically, the mash-up works, although it can become a little bland at times. Excitement picks up when we move into Kanye rapping over a lush string section. It sounds like he’s giving us all a lesson. And at the final chorus when Sam’s soulful voice floods in like an avalanche, well, it just makes you want to really, really listen.
Bravo, Mr. Serrano, for pairing soul and swagga to make a rap song that really pulls the heart strings. Readers, make sure you check out the rest of Carlos Serrano’s SoundCloud page for other great mash-ups.