Tony Williams Also Misses the “Old Kanye” But Understands He Has to “Do What Is Fun”

“He said he knows how to do perfect, but his goal for his follow-up albums was to do something different.”
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Tony Williams and Kanye West, 2018

Tony Williams (left) and Kanye West at Nas 'NASIR' listening party in Queens in June.

Nearly everyone misses the “old Kanye,” even the legendary singer-songwriter-producer Tony Williams. 

In a new interview with Pigeons and Planes, Williams, who first collaborated with West on his 2004 debut, College Dropout, recalled his time spent with West during the Wyoming sessions and gave his take on the “old” versus “new” Kanye West debate.

“You know, people say that they miss the old Kanye,” Williams said, “I personally miss the old Kanye, too. But from his perspective, you have to do what is fun for you. I personally think 'Ye at his best was the very classic soulful hip-hop 'Ye. I know he's been on record saying he's not what people thought he was.

“I remember in an interview years ago—I think it was following My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy—he basically said it was his most perfect album from a critical standpoint, and it was something he could do blindfolded with a hand behind his back. He said he knows how to do perfect, but his goal for his follow-up albums was to do something different.”

ye was certainly different, a chaotic and beautiful mess. Williams’ recollection and acceptance of West’s abandoning perfection for the sake of art prove him to be both a model musician and fan. And as fans, we must be willing to accept that artists are dynamic, and like any other human we encounter, they will change from the first time we meet them. Change may not always be for the better, but as Williams notes, if the change is coming from a positive place, we have little choice in the matter.

While ye does call back to “chop up the soul Kanye,” as Williams claims to be pining after, the album, though a beacon of light for those suffering from mental illness, is clearly flawed in terms of song structure and presentation. But with music, there will always be a give and take, and if we must choose between evocation and song structure, evocative wins every time.

Williams' vocal contributions can be found on both Pusha-T's DAYTONA ("Hard Piano") and Nas' NASIR ("Bonjour").