When he’s not making headlines because of his antics and personal life, Kanye West is actually somewhere in a studio making music. Early New Year’s Day, he quietly released a new track off his upcoming untitled album.
“Only One” is a poignant song, not only because it speaks about his daughter but also because it’s written from the perspective of his late mother, Donda West. Paul McCartney joins West on the piano in the song, which has lyrics that are quite moving.
“One day, you’ll be the man you always knew you would be,” West sings. “And if you knew how proud I was, you’d never shed a tear, have a fear, no you wouldn’t do that.”
According to a press release about the song, “Only One” is the “first publicly available recording from what has become a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists.”
The press release also says the following:
In early 2014, Paul McCartney and Kanye West first began working together in a small bungalow in Los Angeles. The process that would result in “Only One” began with a simple brainstorming session between the two: With McCartney improvising on the keyboards and Kanye vocally sketching and shaping ideas in a stream-of-consciousness riff.
When they played back the recording afterward, something remarkable happened. Kanye sat there with his family, holding his daughter North on his lap, and listened to his vocals, singing, “Hello, my only one … ” And in that moment, not only could he not recall having sung those words, but he realized that perhaps the words had never really come from him.
The process of artistic creation is one that does not involve thinking, but often channeling. And he understood in that moment that his late mother, Dr. Donda West, who was also his mentor, confidante, and best friend, had spoken through him that day.
“My mom was singing to me, and through me to my daughter,” he said, astonished.
Kanye’s mother died in 2007 after complications from plastic surgery. Earlier this year, during a concert in Connecticut, West said that the one regret he had in life, and the one thing he wished he could change, was that his mother had never met his daughter.
The last verse in “Only One” is a touching memorial to his mother and a simple request to him regarding her granddaughter: “Tell Nori about me. Tell Nori about me.”