Kanye West f/ Pusha T "Runaway" (2010)
Album: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Label: Def Jam
Emile: “That song is just the perfect example of the brilliance of Kanye West as a producer. And I got to witness that dude’s genius. I was lucky enough to go out to Hawaii to work on Cudi’s album Man On The Moon II. We decided to go out there because Kanye was working on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and we’re all kind of a team.
Kanye listened to the beat for four minutes, got in the booth, and almost verbatim to what’s on the song today, just did it. I don’t know if he wrote it in his head in those four minutes, but he just got in the booth and was like, ‘Yeah I always find, yeah I always find something wrong.’
“The way that works is that I was working on Cudi’s album, and it’s all very communal. It’s Kanye’s studio, and Cudi would be there, and Kanye’s whole team would be there, and everybody who’s at the studio does music.
“It was late one night, and we were hanging out, and Kanye asked me if I had any beats, and I started playing him some beats. Pretty low, no big deal, we were just chilling playing some beats. I didn’t know if I had anything that great, because his album’s production was coming out so fucking next level. I had some beats, but I was already in the process of working on songs from scratch, but I was like, ‘Yeah I got some stuff, I’ll play you some ideas.’
“I had a beat, and I played it, and it was the foundation of ‘Runaway.’ It was pretty different from the production now, but something about it, the chord progression or the way I put together the chords must’ve rung out to him.
“It was pretty amazing to watch. He heard the beat once, then asked the guy to play it one more time, and then was just like, ‘Okay, put it in Pro Tools.’ And when he said that, the room was like, ‘Oh shit.’
Jeff Bhasker and Kanye West really went in on the production. I was upstairs doing Cudi’s thing, and I just kept hearing the song just get better and better and better. Kanye is a super producer in the truest sense of the word. He turned it into the this epic song.
“He probably had listened to the beat for four minutes, and got in the booth, and almost verbatim to what’s on the song today, just did it. I don’t know if he wrote it in his head in those four minutes, but he just got in the booth and was like, ‘Yeah I always find, yeah I always find somethin’ wrong.’ And almost the whole song just came out. Something about the chords and the way the music worked, I don’t know, it just hit him and worked out perfectly.
“The lyrics and the concept were what they were, and that’s when the Kanye West genius producer mode came in to play. He totally reproduced the record, and kept working on it and working on it, along with Jeff Bhasker, who played the piano line and played a lot of the keys on it. He’s one of my favorite producers too.
“Those two guys really went in on the production. I was upstairs doing Cudi’s thing, and I just kept hearing the song just get better and better and better. Kanye is a super producer in the truest sense of the word. He turned it into the this epic song. It’s just a beautiful record. It’s a masterpiece.
“He always is like, ‘Thank you for ‘Runaway.’ Thank you for sparking that.’ He’s very cool about that. He’s very appreciative. I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re the one who made it this amazing record! Thank you for making my beat, that was pretty good, into this amazing song! [Laughs.]’’