Kanye West - New Slaves / Blood On The Leaves (live)
Always an innovator, last October Kanye West gave a BBC performance of two songs, reimagining one and reaffirming the other as some of his all-time greatest work.
With this rendition of New Slaves, the percussive beat is transposed into a haunting piano melody, and Kanye’s aggressive lyrics are juxtaposed against a soulful live vocal by Charlie Wilson. The stylistic change serves the song well, making this manifesto on racism and classism feel both introspective and extrospective, at once righteous and wise.
This atmosphere is furthered by Blood On The Leaves. One of Ye’s most expansive songs, its scope is tremendous, spanning the macabre legacy of lynching, to a surrealist depiction of fame and fortune. Here, the form is perfectly married with function, as personal, confessional lyrics are obscured through auto tune and sampling, and from this vastness, Kanye finds soul and sorrow, vanity and tragedy.