Just last week, we reported that Kanye West wrote all of the lyrics for his eighth studio album ye in as many days. As it turns out, compared to the writing process for 2013’s Yeezus, eight days was over-prepared for West.
Looking back at a 2013 Wall Street Journal interview with veteran producer Rick Rubin, the album's executive producer, we discover that West actually wrote five of Yeezus’ 10 tracks in just two hours.
For those keeping score at home, that is nearly the same number of tracks on ye:
"Kanye came over to play me what I assumed was going to be the finished album at three weeks before the last possible delivery date. We ended up listening to three hours of partially finished pieces. The raw material was very strong but hadn’t yet come into focus. Many of the vocals hadn’t been recorded yet, and many of those still didn’t have lyrics. From what he played me, it sounded like several months more work had to be done. I joined the project because after discussing what he had played for me, he asked if I would be open to taking all of the raw material on and help him finish it.
Just two days before the album was supposed to be turned in, five songs still needed vocals. "Don't worry, I will score 40 points for you in the fourth quarter," Kanye allegedly told Rubin. "In the two hours before he had to run to catch the plane [to Milan], he did exactly that: finished all lyrics and performed them with gusto." —The Inside Story of Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’
Considering the unapologetic and Godly nature of the album, this timeline, much like ye’s, should not come as a surprise. When our initial coverage of ye’s eight-day writing session ran, readers on social media were equal parts outraged and impressed. With “half-assed” thrown around as often as “genius,” it seems this anger might be misplaced in the context of Yeezus’ timeline.
Of note, writing five songs in two hours bubbles down to just 24 minutes per song. Were Kanye on the same creative high as he was during the Yeezus sessions, he could have written the entirety of ye in two hours and 48 minutes, which has the slowly become the standard runtime of most major label releases.
Does this prove Kanye West is a genius, incredibly lucky, or some potent mixture of the two? Unclear, but what we do know is the man lives for pressure and chaos, and that is undoubtedly a major player in his success.