The ever-unpredictable Kanye West, who has been teasing a new album over the past year, has put two new songs on SoundCloud. One is a new version of his 808s & Heartbreak opener “Say You Will,” which now features violinist-singer Caroline Shaw, and the other is his take on the Weeknd’s “Tell Your Friends,” which he co-produced. Although West has not officially referenced the tracks, a rep for SoundCloud confirmed to Pitchfork that the recordings were legitimate.
Where the original version of “Say You Will” found the Auto-Tuned rapper singing over a bassy, blippy beat, the new version begins with Shaw singing a “na-na-na-na-na” background as the electronics come in. Her voice then takes over as a sweeping texture gives way to some violin pizzicato parts and a female voice, likely Shaw’s, says “say you will” behind him. The whole track is more experimental and adventurous than the original, with the new version two minutes shorter than the original.
West recently attended a concert by Shaw, who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her a cappella work Partita for 8 Voices. New Yorker writer Alex Ross reported on his Rest Is Noise blog that the rapper was present for Roomful of Teeth’s performance of that work at Los Angeles’ Disney Hall earlier this year and that Shaw had appeared at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser with him this month.
As for West’s redux of the Weeknd’s dramatic, piano-ornamented “Tell Your Friends,” West kept the original background as he sang some Auto-Tuned verses about spending the whole summer “trying to be at the wrong place at the right time” and riding down the 405. The track ends cold before reaching the two-minute mark.
In related news, West performed 808s and Heartbreak in its entirety at the Hollywood Bowl last month; he used the artwork that accompanies those tracks on SoundCloud, which depicts flowers surrealistically melting in paint smears, on merch available at that concert. He also made an appearance on the Game’s new song “Mula,” which is set to appear on that rapper’s upcoming Documentary 2 album.