Back in 2014, Kanye West and Sir Paul McCartney collaborated on a series of tracks, including “All Day” and “FourFiveSeconds”. As Pitchfork points out, McCartney recently appeared on the BBC Radio 4 program Mastertapes wherein he discussed their recording session and defended Kanye’s use of the “n-word”.
“People say he’s eccentric, which you would have to agree with,” McCartney said of the Chicago rapper-producer. “He’s a monster, he’s a crazy guy, but he comes up with great stuff.”
McCartney explained how their collaboration first came about. “Someone said, ‘Kanye wants to write with you.’ So I thought about it first, do I want to do this? I thought, Yeah of course I do. And if it doesn’t work, we just wouldn’t tell anyone … that was the agreement.”
However, once the two actually got together, McCartney said they mostly just sat around, with the former Beatle strumming various melodies and chords on guitar as Kanye recorded on his iPhone. McCartney didn’t hear anything from Kanye for several months until one day “FourFiveSeconds” and “All Day” appeared in his inbox.
“I said ‘Where am I?'” McCartney remembers asking about “FourFiveSeconds”. “[Kanye] says, ‘We sped you up!’ In the middle of the record, there’s a little voice that goes, ‘I find a mystery’ That’s me! I loved it!”
Regarding “All Day”, McCartney said the melody was inspired by a Pablo Picasso painting of a guitarist. “I thought, what’s that chord he’s playing. I started trying to write something just using two fingers and whistled the melody. I was telling that to Kanye … and he didn’t really appear to notice. But then after Christmas, I get this track back, and he took my melody and made it seriously urban.”
“When people heard it, quite a few people said you can’t be connected with this — there’s like 40 n-words!” McCartney added. “People like Oprah, who are a little conservative about that stuff, she says, ‘You shouldn’t do it, even black people shouldn’t use that word.’ I said, ‘Yeah, but it’s Kanye! And he’s talking about an urban generation that uses that word in a completely different way. It’s the context. So I was actually pleased with it.’”
Watch the segment below.
Revisit “All Day” and “FourFiveSeconds”: