James Blake's new album, Overgrown, comes out tomorrow, April 9, and Pigeons and Planes got a few words with him about the process and ideas behind it. During the time between the release of his first album in 2011 and Overgrown, Blake was pretty silent, with the exception of an appearance in Kanye West's VOYR video series with Mannie Fresh, John Legend, and Hit-Boy. Someone says, "We’re testing the mastermind group,” leading many to believe that he was working with Kanye last year.
There have also been rumors of Blake working with Kendrick Lamar, and it wouldn't be a stretch given his known affinity for hip-hop, as he sampled Big Boi's "Royal Flush" on Overgrown's "Everyday I Ran" and got RZA to rap on "Take a Fall for Me."
However, Blake denied working with Kendrick, despite being a huge fan of his. He discussed with P&P:
Do you want to [collaborate with Kendrick]?
Yeah, I really like Kendrick. I met him at SXSW, the “convention” or “promotional exercise,” as we call it. This year, it was even more like an advertising billboard the entire time, but it was fun. We threw a big listening party for the album, and Kendrick came. He’s really nice, but we’re both so busy. You never know what might happen. It’s just if we both have the time. Maybe if I make a beat, and he sounds good on it; we’ll see. I’ve got a few ideas. I have to say that I love his music and his album.
Are there any songs of his that you like the most?
“Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” is my favorite song on the new record. It’s a really moving song. There are a lot of really good beats on there. “Backseat Freestyle” is incredible, too.
Of sampling Big Boi and choosing RZA for "Take a Fall for Me," he said,
The Big Boi sample was just a random exercise that turned into something at some point—a tune. The RZA appearance was really a chosen collaboration, because I really heard him on the beat when I made it. He just seemed like the only person that would have sounded good on it.
Would it have worked with anybody else or would you have discarded the song if you couldn’t get him?
I might have discarded it, or I might have put it on the album as an instrumental. I just didn’t really want anybody else.
And since his appearance in VOYR had everyone wondering if he was working with 'Ye, he denied that rumor, as well, saying:
No, it doesn’t mean I’m working with him. I just went there and played him my music. He knew some of my music, but I just played him some beats. I think he was trying to put together an album for someone, whether it was him or John Legend. It was more about hearing the music, hanging out, and meeting. All the people in that room were incredibly motivated and all really hardworking; I probably stuck out like a sore thumb.