In June 2013, Kanye West released Yeezus, his confrontational and critically acclaimed sixth studio album. About a week or so after the album dropped, people were already wondering about a follow-up. Since then, Kanye has traveled far and wide in search of the right sound, collaborators, and inspiration for this latest LP, which seems likely to arrive — we hope! — in the coming months.
While it’s impossible to predict the direction in which a Kanye West album will go (are his recent, relatively mellow McCartney collabs a feint?), Vulture knows where Ye’s been. Join us as we retrace every step of his latest musical journey:
June 27, 2013: The Daily Beast/Newsweek interviews Rick Rubin, who executive-produced Yeezus. Rubin talks about how Kanye originally brought in 16 tracks for that effort, and the two of them reimagined the project as two albums. Asked point blank whether there’s another LP in the pipeline, Rubin says, “Might be.”
November 25, 2013: Kanye stops by Philadelphia radio station Power 99 and says that he’s started working on the official follow-up to Yeezus, which he anticipates will drop in summer 2014.
November 26, 2013: Kanye goes on Power 105’s “The Breakfast Club” and explains the differences in vibe between Yeezus and his new record: “Bruce Springsteen dropped this album called Nebraska, and right after that he did Born in the USA. This next one, I have a feeling, because of what we did right now, has to be Born in the USA.”
December 3, 2013: Legendary rapper and producer Q-Tip revealed to Elliott Wilson that he and Rick Rubin will be producing Kanye’s next project.
December 5, 2013: During Kanye’s discussion with Jacques Herzog at Art Basel in Miami, Ye offered up, in an effort to reduce the amount of information a listener needs, “I think my next album is going to be eight songs.”
February 5, 2014: Symbolic One, who produced “Power” for Kanye and “Murder to Excellence” for Watch the Throne, West’s album with Jay Z, told Dallas Fort Worth radio station 97.9 The Beat that Kanye recently asked him to help with recording his next studio album.
February 25, 2014: Kanye guests on the second ever episode of Late Night With Seth Meyers, where he agrees that the birth of his daughter North will affect the tone of his new album. He jokes that he’s making “artistic, intellectual, kid-friendly songs” in the same way that nudity is acceptable on European television.
April 1, 2014: Kanye postpones Australian concerts so he can work on his new album. Concert promoter Live Nation released a statement: “Due to unexpected timing requirements to finish his highly anticipated new studio album, scheduled for a 2014 release, Kanye West regretfully announces the postponement of his upcoming tour dates in Australia.”
April 6, 2014: Self-Titled spoke with Evian Christ, a beat-maker who has worked with Kanye, who revealed that Ye was looking for “something that sounds a bit like Otis Redding, a bit like Mobb Deep.”
April 28, 2014: Contact Music reports that Kanye’s next project will be a three-hour spoken-word album, available on vinyl, “featuring everything from his views on the environment to life with fiancée Kim Kardashian and their 10-month-old daughter North.” The original report for this tidbit came from The Sun. So it’s best taken with a boulder-sized grain of salt.
May 16, 2014: Kanye shares with Italy’s La Nazione newspaper that he’s been recording in Florence and plans to record the bulk of his new album in there, the city where he and Kim married. He also hints at a title: “I’m composing a whole album, Made in Florence.”
May 22, 2014: A source tells Billboard’s Erika Ramirez, “there’s 12 songs on the album. Out of six heard, it’s ‘mostly a mixture of soul samples and tamed Yeezus-esque darkness … nothing abrasive.’”
June 6, 2014: Kanye’s album will not, as was previously believed, be called The New Testament, a source in Ye’s camp tells Gawker. Speculation on Twitter and music blogs hit a fever pitch when an image of Michelangelo’s David was sent around in digital form and by way of postcards, purportedly announcing a new Kanye project to debut on June 10.
June 25, 2014: Kanye’s cousin and close confidante Tony Williams is of course involved with the Yeezus follow-up but reveals very little: “I’m not saying nothing … but it’s gonna be crazy. It’s about to be crazy!”
June 26, 2014: The Daily Mail reports that Kanye and Rihanna put in studio time in West Hollywood, possibly recording for her album, his album, or both.
June 30, 2014: French Montana tells MTV News that he and Ye have recorded five tracks together: “I love it — we’ve been working on his album and mines so we’re just going back and forth.”
July 18, 2014: E! News reports that Kanye brought his entire studio setup, his production team, and Kim and North to Mexico for a recording vacation. They spent at least two weeks living in Joe Francis’s villa in Punta Mita, and have been working on the new album near Puerto Vallarta.
July 21, 2014: Kanye tells GQ magazine that he hopes the new album will be released in September, but possibly in October or November. He shares that he’s changed the sound, which began with the sentiment that, “Hey, I’m a great musician. I make these beautiful songs, and they have all this meaning, and nobody can make anything that means this much.” Now, “I got a new song that’s so good that the album has to be balanced against it,” West said. “This song is a song that can be in the club like ‘Don’t Like’ or ‘N****s in Paris.’” In the same interview, Ye hints at a new single called “All Day.”
July 22, 2014: Young Chop confirms his involvement on Kanye’s next album.
July 29, 2014: Chief Keef tweets that he and Ye have each done verses for the other’s projects.
August 15, 2014 – England’s Daily Mail reports that Kanye hopes to record with the Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney, as they’ve grown to be friends and Ye is putting the finishing touches on his new album.
August 18, 2014: “Page Six” reports that Kanye and Paul McCartney have, in fact, secretly collaborated on enough songs that they may put out an entire project.
August 20, 2014: The Fader spoke with producer Hudson Mohawke, who mentioned he had been in Mexico recording with Kanye and, last he heard, still had a few beats on the album.
August 28, 2014: Travi$ Scott stops by Hot 97’s “Ebro in the Morning.” Co-hosts Ebro Darden and Peter Rosenberg try to read between Trav’s lines, guessing that any collaboration between him, Young Thug, and Ye would end up on Kanye’s new album. Travi$ neither confirms nor denies.
September 9, 2014: London’s Daily Star reports that Kanye sent famed Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers a track to work on. No confirmation on whether or not it’s for the new Ye project.
September 12, 2014: GQ magazine asks Travi$ Scott about Kanye’s new album. He says, “I don’t want to really spoil it, cause you know how it is with them. But just know, man. Just know Ye is coming to kick some ass. Straight up. I’m so excited for his new shit, man.”
September 30, 2014: Theophilus London sparked an online frenzy when he Instagrammed that he’d heard Ye’s new album three times in a row at a private listening at a club in Paris, but then backtracked, stating that the album was in fact unfinished.
October 6, 2014: Longtime Kanye collaborator Malik Yusef tells Rolling Stone that there are 20 finished songs for what will not be a “regular Kanye album.”
December 3, 2014: Actor Seth Rogen tells Rolling Stone that he and his wife ran into Kanye in a hotel lobby and were invited to a private live performance — Ye rapping over instrumentals — of the new album, in Kanye’s limo van.
December 31, 2014: Seemingly out of nowhere, Kanye releases the first single off of his new project, “Only One” — a song sung from the perspective of his late mother, Donda. The song features Paul McCartney on keyboards.
January 2, 2015: Ty Dolla $ign tells Billboard that he and Ye recorded “roughly nine songs together, including ‘Only One,’” over the course of two days at a mansion overlooking the water in Mexico. Ty also hints at a Kanye-Rihanna–Paul McCartney collaboration soon to drop.
January 8, 2015: Kanye and Kim stop by the Def Jam offices in New York City to play songs off the new album.
January 21, 2015: Kanye made a surprise appearance and subsequent 45 minute talk at the iHeart Media Summit in Burbank, California. He spoke on his history, the changes he’s brought to music, his experiences recording with Paul McCartney, and “he finished playing one new song: a duet with Rihanna that featured acoustic guitar and a big, soaring chorus and melody with a massive hook. He then slammed his laptop shut and walked offstage to a standing ovation.”
January 26, 2015: Kanye’s close friend Ibn Jasper posted on Instagram that the Kanye-Rihanna–Paul McCartney song “FourFiveSeconds” would be placed on both Kanye’s and Rihanna’s new albums. He also stated that McCartney would co-executive-produce Kanye’s entire album.
January 26, 2015: Reps for Kanye and Paul McCartney tell Rolling Stone that, contrary to reports, McCartney will not co-produce Kanye’s whole album.
January 27, 2015: Kanye and Chicago rapper/new OVO signee King Louie take a picture together in Los Angeles, where Kanye is recording his album.
January 28, 2015: Kanye sits in on Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show and says that his album is still untitled. “What’s the name of the CD?” “I don’t know yet. We’re still trying to find it; trying to find the vibe. You know, this transition from what I felt when I did Yeezus, to what I feel now.”
January 29, 2015: Consequence tells Hip Hop Wired that he and former foe Pusha T recently resolved their differences, all in the name of helping Kanye finish his new album. “Pusha and I deaded everything and we creatively vibed with Kanye for this new LP.”
February 3, 2015: Revolt reports that Kanye will not only be performing with Rihanna and Paul McCartney at the 2015 Grammys, which had been rumored for a week or so, but he’ll also be debuting another solo song off his upcoming album.