Kanye West’s “All Day” Proves His Album Won’t Be All Lullabies and Starbucks Singles

The long-awaited Kanye single is finally here and, boy, does it live up.

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It’s tucked for everybody. “Know Yourself” had a good week-and-a-half run. But Yeezus just rose again. "All Day," the snippet that tormented many a Kanye Stan for the last six months, is finally here in full and it gloriously lives up to the hype. So much so that we task you with telling us another highlight of the 2015 BRIT Awards outside of Madonna being literally dragged off stage. You can't because all anyone remembers is Ye mobbing on stage with a massive squad that included a guy with a fucking flame thrower. Hearing a new Kanye song is always a blessing, but "All Day" is different. "All Day" is one of the most important songs Kanye's ever released. After he musically inverted himself with Yeezus, and isolated many, he needed to draw back in the masses of people who believed he ceded the throne to the kid from Toronto. 

The track was first teased during an interview with GQ in July 2014, in which Ye said he made a song so good that his next album "has to be balanced against it." It was something, he said, that "can be in the club like 'Don't Like' or 'Niggas in Paris.'" The thirst for the heater was so real that fans took a leaked snippet and made full-on fake versions of the song.

So when rumors arose at the end of December that he was going to drop a new song, we assumed Kanye was going to release "All Day" to help us bring in the New Year. Instead we got a lullaby (albeit a damned beautiful one) to his daughter. OK, we thought, Kanye’s putting family first, that’s dope. Then "FourFive Seconds" dropped and panic really set in. Everyone who was feeling the bluegrass, Starbucks-ready Rihanna single was pointing fingers at those of us who feared the track was portending what the entirety of Ye’s seventh LP would sound like. The man said it himself last week on the Breakfast Club: his job is to innovate, a position he feels he upheld with the intentionally left-veering McCartney tracks.

The cloudy forecast began to brighten two weeks ago when Ye played "Wolves" at his fashion show and then performed it with Sia and Vic Mensa at "SNL 40." A moody, pulsating track with a killer verse from Vic Mensa and Sia on the outro, "Wolves" showed that his album would a) have drums and b) not be filled with tame pop radio cuts. But as dope as it was, neither of the Chicago rappers actually spit on it. It's a track that plays like 808s meets Yeezus. That's a dope cocktail of sounds, but where are the bars, Sway?

All of that brings us back to "All Day," the Great Trap Hope. When the snippet leaked I saw a few people bemoan how “of the now” it sounded. Post 808s, and especially post Yeezus, we expect Kanye to constantly chart new territory. But guess what? It is unequivocally fun as fuck, and dare I say crucial, when he decides to battle with those running radio (read: Drake) and just blacks the fuck out. It was just as fun when he and Hova went full Lex Luger on "HAM" and you all lamed so hard they almost canceled the album. But in the wake of experiments like Yeezus, it seems the streets are ready to accept an easily acceptable banger. Something people can drunkenly rap at 2 a.m. And just like "HAM"'s baroque twist, of course Kanye can't ever prohibit himself completely. "All Day" has the drums, yes, but it's got a flair of Yeezus too to elevate it beyond the rap hits banging out of every car right now.  

Do I want a whole album of Kanye rapping over shit French Montana could glide over? No. But I don’t mind a rare lapse. From the McCartney tracks and the snippet's unceremonious leak, we the Ye Stans feared "All Day" was a thing of the past, a mythological track we probably never even were supposed to hear or know of, made sessions ago that's since been left in the dust. So imagine how quickly cynicism turned into genuine Christmas-morning surprise when the gawd stormed the BRIT Awards stage with the most fire (literally) stage setup of all time and the snippet's familiar chant blared. 

This is the Kanye that we all need periodic injections of, the one who gave Chief Keef an alley-oop with a verse so mean-mug and unforgiving that it still rings off in clubs. And it’s with yesterday's epic performance that the hype for the seventh album goes way way way up. Between this, "Wolves," "Only One," and "FourFive Seconds" (incidentally all ranked in degrees of flames from greatest to lowest) Ye confirms everything he’s been touting about the album since his fall 2013 press tour. If Yeezus was his Nebraska, this is going to be his Born in the USA, and to do that, he's going to need to have something for everyone.

I want to vibe to Vic Mensa’s intergalactic verse on “Wolves” then head to the spot and hang from a chandelier rapping bars like “shopping for the winter and it’s just May, nigga.” Folksy acoustic songs with the princess of pop and a fucking Beatle are cool. But a track that allows Kanye to mob out on stage with pyrotechnics? Much doper. As far into the future as Kanye goes, it's always nice when he briefly returns to the present.

Frazier Tharpe is a staff writer at Complex, and he's had a tab open to the "All Day" snippet since last summer. Follow him @The_SummerMan

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