Yesterday we posted the video and mp3 rip of Kanye West‘s new track with Pusha T of Clipse, “Runaway.” West performed it in a red suit (black shirt, no tie, red hightops) at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday evening, perched on an empty stage with nothing but the buttons of his MPC to keep him company, man’s best friend for the complicated rap star. A CD quality version of the track is now floating around, thanks to Funkmaster Flex, and while we noted the emo-ness of the song’s content, it’s worth corroborating that evidence with a bit of attention paid of Kanye’s tone. Which is heavily lopsided and even slightly whiny, off-key and wobbly. Take, for example, his pulling of the the last bit of the word “you” at 1:46. It’s preceded by what appears to be an automated pitch shift in “hoodrats” (listen to the quick, curt shift of the two syllables). But “you” is left natural, slung out shitty and desperate, an organic twin to the tech correction. Seemingly left purposefully, then, it has the kind of crummy extra trill that only amateur singers with a chip on their shoulder and a star in their eye stubbornly sing, subjecting the rest of us to their definition of what’s good when we all know it’s bad. But do we put up with it or say something? In the case of Kanye, he’s inverted the definition of bad (or at least mirrored it), so that here, it feels so raw as to be endearing. He may be painting himself as the bad guy, but he’s conscious enough of his vulnerability to use it worm out of responsibility. You can be a naive baby, but once you acknowledge that you’re a naive baby and take advantage of it, then you just become sneaky. And, as much as “Runaway”‘s got an effectively simple piano loop, drums that snap to attention and a bare message of humility, he’s betraying himself with that little smirk. You’ve got to admire his cunning. Great song.
Download: Kanye West f. Pusha T, “Runaway”