How 070 Shake Stole the Show on Kanye West’s New Album
Kanye West’s Ye has only been out for a few days, and its reception has been divided. The consensus, when it has formed, seems to circle around two things: “Ghost Town,” – West’s collaboration with Kid Cudi and 070 Shake – is the general pick for best song on the album, and 070 Shake is the standout feature from the project. It’s easy to hear why after listening. “Ghost Town” is the most straightforward song on the album, and 070 Shake’s verse, which ends the song, is an attention-grabber. The 20-year-old G.O.O.D. Music signee attacks the song from a different angle than most would, opting to sing in a petulant yelp that jolts, but ultimately comes off as earnest and transfixing. It’s an undeniable high point on Ye, and if you’d never listened to 070 Shake before – she has an EP, Glitter, out now, and released a new music video for its song “Mirrors” today – it’s quite the introduction.
Rolling Stone talked to 070 Shake about having a standout moment on a Kanye album, recording her verse on the day of Ye’s release, and why she wrote that your hand will bleed when you hold it over the stove instead of burn.
Congratulations on the verse, by the way.
Oh, thank you so much, man.
How have the past few days for you been?
Have you had a lot of people hitting you up?
Yeah, a lot. A lot of random people hitting up my phone and I’m, like, “How did you get my number?” and shit. It’s dope, though.
What was it like hearing the song for the first time at the listening?
It was just a surreal feeling. I was trying to take every moment in, I feel a lot of times things pass and you’ll be like, “Damn, I wish I would have took the time to take that in more.” So that’s what I was focused on, taking that whole moment in. It was pretty surreal, though.
Are you used to hearing yourself on a Kanye album yet?
[Laughs] Nah, I feel like that’s not even me. It feels like it’s someone else, and then I think, Damn, that’s crazy.
A lot of people asked me about that line: “Do you know what a stove is?”
Can you take me through the writing process? When did you first write your verse?
I wrote it when I first got to Wyoming and I kind of did a reference, but I showed him and I think he, like, forgot about it? But then he remembered last-minute.
How much direction did he give you when you recorded it?
It wasn’t much direction, except for positivity and shit. That’s the direction I always try to be in. And yeah, that’s about it, I found that melody and thought, Damn, that sounds dope.
Were you writing to the finished beat? How similar was it to what we all heard?
No, the beat wasn’t completely finished. It was just the first couple chops, and I got inspired because Kanye was in that mode of being free and thinking free and all that shit. It got kind of stuck in my head.
So he heard the reference, liked it, forgot about it, and remembered it right at the end?
Well, he was very focused on a lot of other things, other songs and stuff, and it just left his mind a little bit.
When did you find out that you were going to be on the album?
Well, working with him, a lot of things are changing fast. He’s just like that, he likes to be open with everything. So you just never knew what was going to stay or what was going to come off the board. I was just hoping that I would be on it, but knew that anything could happen.
And you finished “Ghost Town” on the day it was released?
Yeah, I finished my final vocals on that same day.
If the album is coming out later that day, were you nervous?
I think it was just more like, “Yo, we’ve really got to get this done.” You had to put aside your nerves and just get into work mode, we’ve got to make this shit hot.
What’s Kanye like in that situation, where he’s finishing an album that needs to come out in a matter of hours?
He’s actually, like, very calm. You wouldn’t even think that his album was coming out on the same day. He’s like, “Yo, if we’ve got to change this, we’ve got to change this.” Mike Dean is coming in and freaking out and he’ll say, “Yo, it’s alright, man.”
How long were you in Wyoming? Are you still in Wyoming?
No, I’m back in Jersey. I was out there for two and half weeks or so.
How many other songs did you end up working on?
I don’t know. I was working on shit throughout the whole time there, I was even working on my own shit. I don’t know exactly.
I wanted to ask you about your line, “Put my hand on the stove, to see if I still bleed.”
If you burn it a lot, burn it hard enough, you will actually bleed. A lot of people asked me about that line: “Do you know what a stove is?” Bro, if you burn it for long enough, you’re going to bleed. It gets to the point where it’s so numb that you don’t even feel it. When it bleeds, it’s so numb that you don’t even feel it. It was a whole metaphor.
Your verse has been the one that’s been noticed the most from the album. Does this feel like a breakout moment for you?
I mean, I think anything — just being on his work — anything would have been a standout moment for me, in my eyes.
What do you do, after this? You’ve been on a Kanye album.
I’ve just got to keep going, keep making some fire and keep that momentum going. It’s really just work, and keep accomplishing more goals. I’m about to drop a project. It’s going to be really dope. I learned a lot from who I was around, I think I’m just going to be better at what I do now.
Are you going to be on any other of the Wyoming projects?
Ah, I don’t know. I don’t have any idea.
We’ll find out together, then.
Hell yeah [Laughs].
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