With the countdown toward Kanye West’s Swish entering its home stretch, the fire-breathing auteur uploaded the full version of Kendrick Lamar–assisted soul jam “No More Parties in L.A.” to SoundCloud on Monday. And boy is he cranky about that stolen laptop.
Ten days ago, West teased “L.A.” alongside another song, “Real Friends.” On both tracks (from his seventh solo album reportedly due Feb. 11), West lashes out at a cousin who allegedly snatched his laptop and then extorted him to the tune of $250,000 for its return. It’s a casual, distant factoid West raps about in both tunes, but it’s plenty telling: He’s 38, jaded by business, balancing fatherhood with art, and fuming as the default family patriarch who has to listen to everyone’s b.s.
Here West and producer Madlib heat a made-to-chat-over sample from Junie Morrison’s “Suzie Thundertussy.” Then the rappers get busy.
For his part, perennially heralded rapper Kendrick Lamar is in police cruiser mode—patrolling lanes for curious word patterns that all rhyme with “e.” As a rapper he’s at his most interesting working out a moral quandary throughout the duration of a verse and detailing the inner workings of his admittedly evolving philosophy. Not so much here.
Lamar is in sacrificial lamb mode, shaming an Instagram model for hooking up with him before quickly propelling onto other famous personalities. He’s upset at her for her upward mobility and also for killing his confidence with backstage politics. And also because she inspires him, makes him “say big words, act lyrical.”
We get it, dude: She wasn’t that into you.
The good news is West paid for a Lamar performance just to have an excuse to match wits. In markets like Houston, there are now “classic” hip-hop stations like Boom 92 FM rooted in the late ’80s and ’90s. West is from this era of aggressive showmanship and static masculinity in rap performance; pushing 40, he’s a high school baller catching fire in the driveway. But whereas peers like Redman and Jadakiss stay in cramped thematic lanes, West is all too happy to run down interactions with his therapist, beefs with agents, concerns for his children, that time his assistant dented his custom Maybach, haircuts, and writer’s block.
He doesn’t have to worry about that last one, it seems.
Illustration by Max Fleishman