Superproducer Jeff Bhasker Reveals the Secrets of Working With Kanye West

The Making of "Love Lockdown"

Jeff Bhasker: "[I helped write songs] more or less in some cases. Most of them came from him and then we would put the music together. For example, 'Love Lockdown,' there was like five writers on that. We deciphered what the demo might be saying. Kanye just freestyled it. We went back and filled in the words. In that sense, it was contributing to the songwriting.

 

'Love Lockdown' was born, two days later he said, 'I'm gonna perform this at the VMAs.'

 

"You need collaborators that understand songwriting to make the song as good as it can be, even if its not like, 'Okay, let's try this melody or that melody.' It's like going along for the ride and being there to say, 'Why don't we change this word?' or "If it went to this chord here, it would be better." So collaboration is a murky, abstract thing. [It's about] having love for song itself, and not being like. 'I don't know where you going with this.'

"It's not easy [getting it exactly right]. 'Love Lockdown' was born, two days later he said, 'I'm gonna perform this at the VMAs.' It was still in a very raw state. It happened instantly and a lot people thought he was out of his mind, but Kanye is the best out of his mind person we have in music. That's why he is who he is. He puts himself on the spot and is always challenging himself to accomplish his dreams and his goals which is really inspiring. It's hard, but it's also satisfying because the more you do it, the more you get used to growing.

"It's like what I said about the shows, there is no 'can't.' There's only 'How do we accomplish this?' Whatever you end up with is what you got. Having that intention behind it comes through in his performance and it's not just about him. There's a lot of great artists out there, they put themselves out there, but he really put himself out there with 'Love Lockdown.' That's an extreme version of it, but that's why Kanye resonates with people. The energy of him doing it was just as exciting as the song. It's not like, 'Oh, well, this is a new song by Kanye West.' It was an event."

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