Kanye West previews four bracing new songs at Facebook headquarters

Kanye-West-at-facebookKanye West previewed a big chunk of his upcoming fifth album at Facebook’s corporate headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. last night. He didn’t play finished tracks from an iPod, or perform any typical concert. The suited rapper simply climbed on a table and spit verses from four new tunes, a cappella, for what looks like a fluorescently lit conference room full of employees. It’s the biggest glimpse we’ve gotten yet of West’s highly anticipated disc, for which his label has yet to announce a confirmed title or release date.

Crisp footage of West’s unconventional performance made it to YouTube lickety-split, of course. So what can we glean from his latest lyrics? Check them out after the jump (clips via Rap Radar, some NSFW language) and see.

West opened with a song of unknown title. After being interrupted by a ringing phone — seriously, Facebook employees, Kanye West is giving you an exclusive private performance and you’re not on vibrate? — he launches into what he describes as “a fun rap.” “Kill the hypocrisy/This is an aristocracy,” West rhymes. “I’m Socrates/But my skin more chocolatey.” That’s gotta be the best Socrates namedrop since the Clipse’s Hell Hath No Fury, if not Wu-Tang Forever.

Another clip shows West debuting verses from two songs. The first one may or may not be called “Devil in a New Dress.” It opens with a second-person monologue of escalating intensity — “You’re my devil, you’re my angel/You’re my heaven, you’re my hell” — that builds to a forceful proposition: “Lost in this plastic life/Let’s break out of this fake-ass party, turn this into a classic night.”

Next in that same clip is a song that’s likely titled “Chain Heavy.” This one’s anger carries a more political flavor. West drops fleeting references to Hurricane Katrina (“they tried to tell me my chain broke the levee”), the building of the pyramids, and “burn, Hollywood, burn.” He mentions the rank racism that his VMAs moment brought out in some sectors of the public (“I got called n—– on Twitter so many times”). It ends with an instantly quotable couplet: “This is the making of a masterpiece/So we broke out the chains and told our master, ‘Peace.'”

A third clip features a song apparently called “Mama’s Boyfriend,” in which West flashes back to his own perspective as a five-year-old watching his recently divorced mother start dating again. “I’m my mama’s boyfriend/I’m her little husband,” he shouts. “Keep your hands off my mama.” The remembered pain is raw and vivid — all the more so when West starts thinking about whether he, as an adult guy, is so different from his mom’s old boyfriends after all. Lots of rappers these days talk about their emotional baggage, a trend that West helped bring back to the genre’s forefront years ago. Yet even today I don’t think anyone else would reveal quite so much of themselves on record as this. Listening to the words of “Mama’s Boyfriend” feels like overhearing a therapy session. Call it Freud-hop.

West thanked his audience in a blog post today: “Many times in life I’ve had to deal with moments of doubt. And as it’s been a minute since I’ve performed any fresh material in front of an audience, this could’ve been one of those moments… but it wasn’t. Your energy was a gift so electric, so genuine, that it really helped me give my best.”

What do you think of Kanye’s surprise Facebook performance? Which of these songs sounds best to you? Sound off in the comments.

(Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
Wyclef Jean running for president of Haiti?
M.I.A. promises free make-up show after Hard NYC fiasco
Katy Perry answers fans’ questions, talks about her “boobs”
What do you think of Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘Country Strong’ single?

Comments (56 total) Add your comment
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  • Jay

    Mama’s Boyfriend is AMAZING…wow

    • Justin

      Kanye West is AMAZING. He is very talented, producer, 14 time grammy Award winning. 95% his albums have been nominated for Album Of The Year. Sept. 14th he will score another number one album. The haters are jealous they have no venue but internet blogs to voice their unheard voices. Kanye West makes music for the masses and all people regardless of race. If he was a racist why would he thank this room full of all races today for giving him their time. Most of the racists in this world are the ones calling others racists…black people can’t be racist. Ya’ll made racism! Black people only dominated racist pricks it and prevailed to success that can’t be stopped.

    • Katie G

      yea, totally agree. The other clips were pretty good – by Mama’s Boyfriend was one of those songs I’ll always remember, even if it’s just a You Tube clip for now.

  • Tev

    Mr West is back album of the year is here im buyin it the day it comes out “Mama’s Boyfriend” is beautiful i can relate to it

    • Justin

      Yep, Day 1 bro. :)

  • Bob

    I remember when this guy was relevant.

    Then he started opening his mouth and voicing his uneducated opinions.

    Go away again, please. Get married to Chris Brown and STAY. AWAY.

    Thank you.

    • u

      And he’s still relevant, hence the high anticipation for his new album. He’s not going anywhere, and lots of people have long moved on from the VMA incident, including Taylor Swift herself.

      • v

        The only person with “high anticipation for his new album” is Simon Vozick-Levinson, who honestly may just be a 14-year-old trapped in a 20-something’s body.

      • Judy_Dinch


      • u

        @ Judy:
        Give up already, you’ve posted your biblical crap so many times around here that everyone knows by now you’re a troll. You’re not even funny anymore. Find something more constructive to do with your free time.

      • Kanye

        @Judy: do you like fishsticks?

    • Tev

      ur comment fails bob

      • Bob

        No, Kanye failed the test. He had an opportunity to be a voice for his generation and his own heritage in a new age. Instead, he got caught up in his ego. THAT’s the god you now worship, Tev.

        YOU are epic fail. And you’re going to give this jerk your money. Nice.

      • Justin

        Tevs right…BOB YOU FAIL. :)

    • Will

      He still is relevant. When you have 4 multi platinum albums you can talk. LOL. Either you are a Taylor stan not recovered yet from the VMA incident, a hater, or you don’t listen to rap music and just Lady GaGa and Madona.

    • Mark Moody

      Bob likes fishsticks.

  • sparkle the gym bag

    be careful or someone will drop a house on you….

  • u

    These vids confirm what I’ve thought all along— that he’s a mediocre rapper. Although “Mama’s Boyfriend” was really nice. And before you Kanye fans start attacking, keep in mind that I’m a fan too. I just don’t think he’s a good rapper. His beats are sick, though. It’s why I mostly listen to his music.

    • who cares

      he’s no pac or biggie, but dude is at least creative and isn’t all about b!+c#es and ho’s all the time. that ish gets old.

    • Will

      You aren’t a fan if you listen to his music for the beats. You know nothing about rap. Kanye, Eminem, Lil Wayne, and Nas are the best mainstream rappers today.

      • Anna

        Ew. Don’t put Eminem and Lil Wayne in the same league as Nas or Kanye. They’re talented rappers but uninspired lyricists (especially Lil Wayne). And their beats have no unique character.

  • nodnarb

    I actually watched one of those videos to see if I’m wrong about him. I’m not. He is completely devoid of talent. Did he make up those rhymes in the limo on the way here?! I do gotta give him props for such a humble premiere… on a table in a badly lit conference room in front of code jockeys? So unlike him!

    • Will

      you dont have any idea what you are talking about so im not even gonna start

  • Will

    really Kanye?…On a table….really…

    • Bob Loblaw

      it was a freaking impromptu performance

    • Kanye

      yes, really

    • Betty Draper

      Just fyi, he’s in the dining hall…Where else is he going to stand?!

  • Mal

    Ugh, Kanye. For what ever reason, people really like him. I will give him credit, though…he’s 10 times more talented than Diddy. (Does anyone remember Diddy trying to dance at the end of the video for “I’ll be Missing You”!?!?!? hahahah) I digress…never mind that he’s the typical ego-centric rapper, he really is a dork. He’s so insecure that he attacks anyone who criticizes him. I miss Dr. Dre…

    • Bob Loblaw

      You do know he’s lauded for being the exact opposite of the ego-centric rapper? The very existence of 808’s and Heartbreak invalidates your poorly reasoned assertion.

    • Mal

      Some quotes of Kanye NOT being ego-centric:

      “…my music isn’t just music- it’s medicine.”

      “if I don`t win Album of the Year, I`m gonna have a problem with that… I said I was the face of the Grammys last year. [This year] I`m 10 times that!”

      • ugh

        maybe this would bother me if his music didn’t actually back up his comments…

      • Bob Loblaw

        I was referring to his music.

  • Jay

    Kanye West is an ignorant, arrogant, disrespectful, self-centered, human being.
    I dont care if pure gold flowed straight out of his mouth. He’s a waste of a human

    • Mal


    • Kanye

      who isn’t self-centered these days?

  • Jay

    In the words of Chuck D…

    Taylor is a victim to most
    but she never meant s#@! to me
    this is straight up racist
    the chick is just simple and plain
    forget her AND the VMA’s


    • nodnarb

      MistaChuck could out-rhyme Kanye West on a bad day. With a cold. While being chased by COs.

  • donjuandemor

    KAYNE = DOUCHE Bag, ’nuff said.

    • stan

      Now THAT is relevant!!

  • Corey

    I like Kanye music however as black man Im sick being refered to by the N word ALL THE TIME. hearing the it repeated so many times in mama’s boyfriend(especially without any backing track) is annoying and uninspired. If a white person called me the N word one day in a racist context i couldnt even be mad because he hears a jillion rap songs where my own people refer to us as the N word ALL THE TIME. Maybe sense I didnt grow up being allowed to use that word I have a different perspective. Im just sayin. And the writer of this article calling it a ‘therapy session” and “Frued hop”… you are REACHING my friend.

    • Mal

      Thank you for saying this!

      • truthhurts

        I agree. Good words

  • matthew

    Hes DEFINETELY not a genius in any form IMO. There are dozens of producers better and there are hundreds of better rappers. However he does have good song concepts. Still couldnt hold a candle to more technically accomlished rappers.

    • Justin

      How many of those technically accomplished rappers can produce a song like Kanye? How many of those produces can perform like him?

      How many artists period have the creativity he has?

      You could probably count the number of artists that those 3 questions apply to on one hand.

      • Anna

        I agree. The genius to Kanye is in his production and sly lyrics, and the general tone and direction in which he takes his music, which was different then the wannabe gangster rappers that were all the rage before him.

  • Phil

    I went to the Phillies game last night and everytime slugger Ryan Howard came up they played his song “Power” and I told my friend how much I can’t stand this song. He didn’t even know what it was. At least the Phils beat the Diamondbacks!

  • Aws Nasir

    I have no doubt in my head that the day it comes out I’m going to buy Kanye’s album, if not multiple CDs just to say thank you!

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