Kanye West’s collaboration with Paul McCartney was as unexpected as it was genius. Though the men came from completely different eras and genres of music, they were able to successfully deliver a set of songs beginning in late 2014. There was “Only One,“ “All Day,” and “FourFiveSeconds” featuring Rihanna. Now, more than a year since those releases, McCartney reflected on the partnership in an interview with Rolling Stone. He dished on what the collaborative process was like and how he didn’t know what to expect from the notoriously headstrong musician.
“The only deal I made with Kanye was that if it doesn’t work, we won’t tell anyone,” McCartney explained to Rolling Stone. “I didn’t know his system. I’d heard things like, ‘He’s got a room full of guys working on riffs, and he walks around going, ‘I like that one.’ It reminded me of Andy Warhol, these artists who use students to paint their backgrounds and things. It’s a well-used technique. I thought, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to fit into that, but let’s see. Here goes nothing.'”
So how did he fit in? In the interview, McCartney provided some insight to how the collaborative process actually went down. He talked about the back story of “All Day” and how Kanye based it off a melody McCartney created in 1969.
“I whistled it for him. His engineer was recording it, and it went into the pool of ingredients,” he said. “Kanye was just collecting things. We weren’t going to sit down and write a song so much as talk and spark ideas off each other. It was only when I got this song, the Rihanna record and ‘Only One,’ the three tracks we did, that I went, ‘I get it. He’s taken my little whistle-y thing.’ It returned to me as an urban hip-hop riff. I love that record.”
McCartney’s interest in hip-hop didn’t start with the Kanye collaboration, though. When he was asked if he listened to the genre for pleasure or to simply keep up, he responded by saying he listens to it for educational purposes.
“I hear a lot of it and go to concerts occasionally,” he said. “I went to see Jay Z and Kanye when they toured. I’ve seen Drake live. It’s the music of now.”
To read the full interview, in which McCartney he also says if he thinks Kanye is a genius, go to the Rolling Stone.