By: Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire)
What were you doing before you turned 20 years old? Kanye West was ghost producing for The Madd Rapper and Jermaine Dupri. I had impressively accumulated a five figure debt (Thanks, Syracuse University). Before Raury was legally able to ingest alcohol, the Atlanta singer was dazzling the music industry with his visual for "God's Whisper", being praised by Andre 3000, signing to Columbia Records and releasing Indigo Child, the best musical body of work of 2014. Geniuses need company and Yeezuses need comparable disciples. With no consistent commercial success from any of the artists on G.O.O.D. Music not named John Legend and an impending follow up to the polarizing (read: ironically enjoyed) Yeezus album, Raury WILL sign with G.O.O.D Music and it WILL usher in the post-peak peak of Kanye West.
Why Would Kanye Sign Raury?
The wide-eyed optimism imbued in Kanye's label was readily apparent when he named it Getting Out Our Dreams Music. Ten years later and the label with a history celebrated for its artistic ambitions (Cruel Summer movie, anyone?) has a hard time getting out albums (Cruel Winter, anyone?) and keeping artists, even their label owner. In addition to Kid Cudi, GLC, Common, Consequence and Tony Williams leaving the label in a three year span from 2010-2013, all of Kanye West's five solo albums have been released on Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam and not G.O.O.D. Music.
Here's G.O.O.D. Music's album release history:
John Legend (Get Lifted ('04) 2x Platinum / Once Again ('06) Platinum / Evolver ('08) Gold)
Consequence (Don't Quit Your Day Job '07 )
Common (Be ('05), Gold /Finding Forever ('07) Gold / Universal Mind Control ('08) )
Kid Cudi (Man on the Moon ('09), Gold / Man on the Moon II ('10) Gold, Indicud ('13) )
Mailk Yusef (G.O.O.D. Morning, G.O.O.D. Night ('09))
Big Sean (Finally Famous ('11) / Hall of Fame ('13) )
John Legend (Love In The Future ('13) Gold)
Mr. Hudson (Straight No Chaser ('09))
Pusha T (Fear of God II: Let Us Pray ('11), My Name Is My Name ('13) )
Cruel Summer ('12)
More than the fact that John Legend is as reliable as a terrorist conspiracy appearing on CNN, the overwhelming majority of G.O.O.D. Music's album success has derived from its genre-blending singers moreso than its litany of rappers. Raury has already garnered more national attention than Big Sean, Teyana Taylor and even John Legend accumulated prior to joining G.O.O.D. Music. The listening session for his debut project Indigo Child resembled a Hip Hop Illuminati meeting. Kanye even flew out the Atlanta-bred talent and informed him that his "God's Whisper" video was an inspiration to Yeezus himself.
Kanye's mismanagement of a panoply of sounds and genres on Yeezus felt like a ball juggler drunk on ambition; the talent was apparent but the execution was haphazard. In stark contrast, Raury's Indigo Child was narrated by a privately recorded argument between Raury and his mother, helping the album touch on Euro pop, hard rock, R&B and alternative soul without splintering off from the core of the album (Jamaican dick makes you the new Shabba Ranks, Ye?). With even longtime collaborator and friend Malik Yusef admitting that himself and Kanye fought over Yeezus, an injection of a, relatively speaking, inexperienced prodigy young enough to be his child and talented enough to be his peer would reinvigorate Kanye the same way a certain Cleveland rapper/singer did six years earlier.
The last time Kanye West was coming off a creatively daring album only to delve into an even more daring album he had lost his mom, put some 808's over his heartbreak and found his melody in a 24 year old rapper/singer from Cleveland. Cudi's contribution to 808s & Heartbreak ("Paranoid", "Welcome To Heartbreak" and "Robocop") helped Kanye sculpt the sound for the album, which Ye gives Cudi co-creator credits for. Kanye and Cudi's relationship has noticeably strained since Cudi left G.O.O.D. Music in April 2013. Weeks after leaving the label Cudi claimed to Los Angeles Leakers Kanye was exuberant over the fact the 2nd most successful artist on his label was leaving and then Cudi said this:
He just believes in me in such a freakish way that maybe he might not feel like he needs to be on a song with me or give me beats.
On the surface, these are compliments until you fast forward 10 months and a Yeezus album later and Cudi does not derive the same zeal from West's lack of tangible support. During an interview with Complex, Cudi expressed his displeasure in his vocals unknowingly being placed on West's "Guilt Trip" song from Yeezus. After stating he was initially "flattered, like, it's kind of cool that he thought of me", the perpetual optimism faded:
It was like, Why not call me and have me come in there and give it? Why underuse me? Why put four bars of vocals to coax my fans into thinking this is a legitimate Kid Cudi feature on this song and it isn’t? Same deal with the G.O.O.D. Music album, the compilation. Had I not given Kanye “Creepers” my only presence would’ve been on that one song, that I can’t even remember the title for.
Kanye using Cudi's vocals on a song that did not state Cudi was a featured artist on is as translucent an example of the dichotomy of business and creative on which Kanye operates as any. Most of Kanye's vocals for Yeezus had not been recorded by the time Cudi left G.O.O.D. Music and seems as if Ye did not want to hold up the creative process of an album that was still being worked on a week before its release to negotiate with Universal Republic over the logistics of a Cudi feature. Ye obviously does not want to part ways with Cudi's vocal stylings so why not partner with Kid Cudi 2.0?
How Would It Work?
The brooding baseline and dirty electric guitar licks of Raury's "Chariot Of Fire" would be perfect for a "Blk Skkknhead Pt. 2". If Kanye's Hudson Mohawke-produced "God Level" and its staccato drums with those gloriously spastic hi-hats are the soundtrack to a World Cup then "God's Whisper" could at the very least replace Wale and Stalley on ESPN'S First Take intro. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Raury's deal with Columbia should help facilitate instead of stifle his merger with G.O.O.D Music as every John Legend solo album has been released through Columbia and G.O.O.D Music since the label's inception. In the end, when you merge two men who are once in a lifetime talents, fate is usually the best A&R.
EXPECTED TIME PREDICTION WILL COME TO FRUITION: By January 2015
Previously on #TheNextNew: