You already know that Yeezus is full up of dancehall flavor. You may also know that three of the four songs that feature reggae lyrics are actually samples of well-known Jamaican records. But there is one track, the raunchy sex rap "I'm In It," features a new verse by Assassin aka Agent Sasco, a veteran dancehall artist who first made his name back in 2002 with a Diwali riddim cut called "Ruffest." Eleven years later he has landed the biggest feature of his career, and certainly the biggest look for any dancehall artist this year.
We caught up with him by phone from Kingston, Jamaica where he was basking in the excitement of Yeezus release day. Here are the thoughts of an Assassin.
As told to Rob Kenner (@boomshots)
The Reaction in Jamaica: "It’s on the front page of one of the papers today," he said. "It’s a huge deal. I mean, come on, it’s Kanye. So it’s a huge deal across the globe. It’s Jamaica, it’s Caribbean, it’s Europe, it’s U.S."
On leak day my phone literally was almost burning up. Like, 'Yo I’m in a club. What is happening to my brain? Are you on the Kanye album?' Everything just got crazy.
His Reaction: "Kanye is a certainly a creative genius. He could have gone in so many directions with this project. And he decided to include not one not two but like four samples in the project and also to mention Jamaican culture here and there throughout the project. That’s just huge for Jamaica and it’s huge for dancehall. And of course people who know hip-hop and know dancehall would know that in the creation of hip-hop there was that influence in the beginning. So its not like a brand-new concept but at this stage of the game its good to see the combination of the two.
Feedback On The Track: "The greatest thing is to see the feedback on the track. And I’m sure not just Kanye, but other R&B and hip-hop, whatever genre, other people will be inspired to use the dancehall and the reggae influence. Because the feedback has been crazy, from leak day to release day today it’s just all positive feedback. “Yo, who is that Jamaican dude? Man, he’s goin’ in! Yo, that energy. That is crazy.
The Making Of The Track: Last October Kanye’s production team came to Jamaica. I got a call from Gee Jam Studios in Portland Jamaica that the team was there and they wanted some vocals from various artists in Jamaica. So I was invited to do some work on that. When I got there the vibe that I got was that Kanye was working on another "Lamborghini Mercy" kinda vibe, where it would be like a mixtape or whatever. Some side project but not necessarily a Kanye West album. So I did my verses, like, they just played some instrumentals. There were no vocals down. They just played some straight-up instrumentals and be like, Give us what you got on this. Whatever you feel, whatever vibe. They were like, Give us something a little more hardcore here. Or here, try something… whatever the vibe of the track was. So I laid down about five verses from 16 bars, 24 bars, 32 whatever.
Fast forward to about January I got a call that, “Listen Kanye got the stuff, he’s listening to it and he’s just in love with some of the things you did. We might want you to do some more things. Keep listening out.” And then the next contact I got was that they needed my lawyer’s info so that we could iron out some paperwork because Kanye decided to use one of the verses on something coming up. At that point I still didn’t know it was gonna be the Kanye West upcoming album, Yeezus. I was just there going along, like, “Wait Kanye has an album coming up—I wonder.”
And then on leak day it’s just like my phone literally was almost burning up. Like, “Yo I’m in a club. What is happening to my brain? Are you on the Kanye album?” So everything just got crazy. Yeah, yeah… so that’s just incredible.
I don’t know how they went about doing how they did it and how they put it all together. Kanye is just crazy with what he does. I’m just excited that it’s there. It’s a good look and it’s great and people love it, which at the end of the day is most important.
Further Listening: All right so there’s a song called “Shell” and I think it would fit into that vibe of the “I’m In It” feature because it’s more like a gangster record. And it’s getting a great buzz in JA. It’s just like real hardcore incredible. And then we have a song called “Tell Unuh” which is also in a sense hardcore side. And then we have “Material Girl” which is another vibe of Assassin but it’s interesting and it’s showing the versatility and people can check that out as well.
And of course they can just hit up the Twitter @AgentSasco and Instagram. Stay tuned and you’ll get all of the stuff, where you need to go and all that.