Swish List: A Comprehensive Timeline Of Rumors & Breadcrumbs About Kanye’s New Album
Navigating the New Kanye Album Rumor Onslaught has become a rite of passage for diehard Kanye West fans. (Remember all the bogus Yeezus info that was flying about in the spring of 2013? Or the Independence Day rumors about Watch The Throne?) But the near-constant trickle of clues and whispers surrounding Yeezus 2/So Help Me God/Swish over the past two years has taken things to an unprecedented level. Either Ye’s seventh album is being subjected to a new level of his perfectionism or he’s just sidetracked with fashion and fathering.
Whatever it is, it can feel like The X-Files: The truth is out there, we just have no idea where it is or what it is, because it’s gotten to the point where even the things that are real and exist, like songs or actual Kanye quotes, can only be tenuously connected to this mythical album.
But perhaps if we look at the whole picture, we’ll have an idea of what’s going on. Below, we’ve compiled a comprehensive timeline of two-plus years of rumors and breadcrumbs about Kanye’s Yeezus follow-up — which we’ll be updating as new nuggets emerge.
June 18, 2013: Yeezus officially released amidst rumors of bonus tracks
Mike Dean replies “no comment” during a Reddit AMA question about a deluxe edition featuring four bonus tracks.
June 27, 2013: Yeezus executive producer hints at sequel
“Initially, [West] thought there were going to be 16 songs on the album. But that first day, before he even asked me to work on it, I said, ‘Maybe you should make it more concise. Maybe this is two albums. Maybe this is just the first half,'” Rick Rubin tells The Daily Beast. When asked if that meant another Yeezus was on the horizon, Rubin responded, “Might be.” This is the first true indication that there’s post-Yeezus material already in the pipeline.
August 25, 2013: Kanye reportedly records with Miley Cyrus
The New York Post reports the two hit the studio after the VMAs for a “Black Skinhead” remix as part of a purported Yeezus remix EP. No music from that session has surfaced as of this writing.
August 28, 2013: Kanye & JT float prospect of collaborating
Ye and Justin Timberlake briefly had beef in the summer of 2013, but they break bread and discuss potentially working together.
September 11, 2013: Mike Will says “Black Skinhead” remix is “crazy”
Mike Will Made It confirms the existence of Kanye’s remix with Miley, telling MTV’s RapFix Live that it’s “about done” and “sounding crazy.”
October 22, 2013: Unreleased track previewed at Yeezus concert
Part of the intro to Kanye’s Yeezus show features an unreleased snippet dubbed “I Am Not Here.” Could this be the first taste of the sequel?
October 29, 2013: Kanye worked on new material with Miley
After his interview with Ryan Seacrest, Yeezy apparently tells the show’s staff that he actually worked with Miley on new stuff, not (or, in addition to) the “Black Skinhead” remix.
November 25, 2013: Ye teases summer ’14 follow-up
“I haven’t named my next album, but I have started on it,” the star tells Power 99. “I’d like have another album out by next summer.” He also drops vague hints that Cruel Winter and Watch The Throne 2 are perpetual works-in-progress.
November 26, 2013: Album seven will be his Born In The U.S.A.
One day later, in a legendary interview with The Breakfast Club, Yeezy has this to say about his next album: “Bruce Springsteen dropped this album called Nebraska and right after that he did Born In The U.S.A. This next one, I have a feeling, because of what we did right now, has to be Born In The U.S.A.”
December 3, 2013: Q-Tip says he’s producing the album with Rubin
Here’s where the seventh album really started to feel like a true prospect. Q-Tip tells Jay Z‘s Life + Times that he was executive producing the Yeezus follow-up with Rick Rubin. “I’m producing Kanye’s new album with Rick Rubin…that’s coming up.”
December 4, 2013: Ye says the album is eight tracks
“I think my next album is going to be eight songs,” West says at Miami’s Art Basel. “It’s just reducing down the amount of information that you need.” Reading into this, it seems to confirm he’s again working with Rick Rubin, known for producing by reducing.
January 7, 2014: Kanye solicits Da Internz for beats
The Chicago production duo says they sent a folder of beats to Kanye, probably including this one.
January 8, 2014: French Montana might be on it
“We’re supposed to be working on a couple of songs together for his album,” the rapper tells Rolling Stone. “He got a special project coming out.”
January 27, 2014: Malik Yusef might be on it
January 28, 2014: Young Thug might be on it
“I went to his house and we did a couple of songs,” Thugger tells Complex. “The fact that I was [making songs] so fast amazed him too, because he doesn’t see a lot of people who rap like that.”
April 1, 2014: Kanye postpones tour to finish the album
Live Nation delivers the following message regarding Yeezy’s Australia tour: “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: Evian Christ might be on it
In an interview with self-titled, the British producer says, “[Kanye] e-mailed last night. He wants something that sounds a bit like Otis Redding, a bit like Mobb Deep.”
May 22, 2014: Now it’s 12 tracks, with “soul samples and tamed darkness”
An anonymous source tells Billboard that the new album is 12 tracks, and the six heard were “mostly a mixture of soul samples and tamed Yeezus-esque darkness… nothing abrasive.”
May 24, 2014: “God Level” snippet emerges
An Adidas soccer ad featured part of Kanye’s new track “God Level,” which was produced by West, Hudson Mohawke, 88-Keys, Mike Dean and Noah Goldstein. It’s starting to feel real.
May 30, 2014: “Black Bruce Wayne” leaks
Some Kanye To The member allegedly paid $475 for the snippet, which includes the lyric “Father is the black Bruce Wayne, only shorty in preschool rockin’ two chains,” indicating that it was recorded after Yeezus and the birth of North. The line also sparked rumors of a 2 Chainz feature.
June 14, 2014: Rick Rubin confirms role
Rubin tells Zane Lowe that he and Kanye are “starting looking at vocal ideas for things for the next album,” confirming Q-Tip’s claim about his involvement with the album.
July 7, 2014: Kanye reportedly plays 20 of his new songs
After his Wireless Festival set, Ye spun for three hours at a London club, perhaps using it as a focus group session to test out some 20 new tracks, which a spectator described as “‘Dark’, ‘hellish’ and ‘groundshaking!'”
July 21, 2014: “All Day” is the lead single, LP might drop in September This according to Kanye during his GQ interview. The album doesn’t drop in September.
August 18, 2014: Paul McCartney might be on it
Again, Page Six with the scoop, saying one of their songs is called “Piss On My Grave.”
August 20, 2014: Purported “Piss On My Grave” snippet leaks
Just a couple days after the initial Yeezy-Macca rumors, a supposed clip of the song hits Instagram.
September 1, 2014: “Awesome” snippet arrives
A clip of the seemingly finished song was played on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and it was decidedly not awesome.
September 16, 2014: Lorde might be on it
This according to a Page Six report that the two were planning to hit the studio together.
September 24, 2014: Ye plays the album for a small group in Paris Theophilus London updates Instagram saying Kanye played the new LP three times in a row for about 20 people.
September 30, 2014: Theo changes his tune
Kanye west album isn’t finish for all you Hypebeast bloggers out there writing for your magazine blogs
— Theophilus London (@TheophilusL) September 30, 2014
October 7, 2014: The new album is like Timberland boots
Frequent Ye collaborator Malik Yusef says Ye has 20 finished songs, and the album is “like a pair of Timberlands; like how Timberlands are not quite leather and not quite suede. It’s not the smooth, slick Chicago music sound we have right now and it’s not the ruggedness of just ‘hip-hop hip-hop hip-hop.” Sounds enticingly forward-thinking…and fashionable!”
December 3, 2014: Ye plays the album for Seth Rogen
After Rogen spoofed the “Bound 2” video with James Franco, West brought the actor into his limo, supposedly playing the new album’s instrumentals while rapping over them live. “After each song, he stops it, like, ‘So what do you think?’ We were in the van for two hours!” he told Rolling Stone.
January 1, 2015: “Only One” drops
Right after the Times Square ball drops, Kanye’s first official new song drops, featuring Paul McCartney. Turns out Page Six may have been right. All indications are that it would appear on his then-untitled seventh album.
January 2, 2015: Ty Dolla $ign might be on it
Ty $ sings backup on “Only One,” and reveals he and Kanye worked on eight more songs together (one of which we’d later learn was “FourFiveSeconds.”)
January 24, 2015: “FourFiveSeconds” drops
The Ye-Rihanna-McCartney collab is rumored to appear on both Rihanna‘s R8 album and Ye’s long-gestating full-length.
January 25, 2015: Paul McCartney co-produced the album
This according to Kanye’s barber/confidante Ibn Jasper.
February 5, 2015: “All Day” finally surfaces
A rough version of the supposed lead single to his new album hits the web.
February 12, 2015: “Wolves” is announced
Kanye’s Adidas fashion show is soundtracked by new song “Wolves.” It starts with a screen touting it as the album’s opening track. As of this writing “Wolves” has not been officially released.
February 20, 2015: It’s an album for barbecues
Fitting with his earlier Born In The U.S.A. proclamation, Kanye tells The Breakfast Club the vibe is “cookout music that just feels good. My last album was a protest to music, I was like ‘I’m gonna take my ball and go home’… This album is embracing the music, joy. Being of service to the people.”
February 25, 2015: Debut performance of “All Day”
February 26, 2015: Bruno Mars might be on it
Kanye apologizes for hating on Bruno Mars back in the day and says he wants to nab him for vocal duties on a track.
February 28, 2015: The album gets a name
Kanye reveals the album will be called So Help Me God.
So Help Me God pic.twitter.com/e3UUsQQEts
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) March 1, 2015
March 5, 2015: Bogus tracklist surfaces
Def Jam quickly says it’s a fake.
March 6, 2015: Madonna might be on it
Madge tells Complex that after their Rebel Heart collabs, “We wrote another song together, which is going to be on his record.”
March 7, 2015: “All Day” video premieres, then is scrapped
Ye premieres the stark video at Paris Fashion Week. He later decides to use the BRIT Awards performance as the official visual.
March 11, 2015: The full “Awesome” leaks
And it’s still not very awesome.
March 11, 2015: Kanye’s laptop of new music allegedly stolen
The reports were soon debunked by Def Jam. March 30, 2015: Will he release it on Tidal? Kanye’s Tidal involvement leads to speculation that he’ll exclusively release the new LP on Jay Z’s streaming service.
May 3, 2015: The album gets a new name
I’m changing my album name to SWISH — KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 3, 2015
I might change it again but that’s the name now
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) May 3, 2015
May 28, 2015: “A Long Time” surfaces
Apparent unreleased West track “A Long Time” is played during a set by DJ Windows 98 (better known as Arcade Fire‘s Win Butler). Our site is quickly asked to remove the clip due to copyright violations, seeming to confirm its veracity. The most extreme speculation is that Butler got a hold of the track because he is somehow involved with the album, which isn’t that absurd considering Ye has worked with Justin Vernon, Adam Levine and Chris Martin.
June 7, 2015: Will he release it on Apple Music?
Apple is reportedly in talks with Kanye, so the cool new theory is that he’ll exclusively release the project via Apple Music. Considering it’s one of Tidal’s biggest competitors, this surely wouldn’t make Jay Z happy.
June 11, 2015: Kanye’s working slowly
“Work on the next album, work on it slowly, make it an art project, you know, deliver the innovation that I know I have consistently done since 808s and Dark Fantasy,” he tells Hot 97.
June 29, 2015: Justin Vernon might be on it
“We did some more joints together,” Kanye tells the Glastonbury crowd regarding the Bon Iver frontman.
July 1, 2015: The LP wasn’t scrapped
“Rick [Rubin] and I were gonna do the record, and Kanye went through different phases musically, so we’ve yet to reconnect on his project,” Q-Tip tells Billboard about Swish. “It’s not like [Kanye] scrapped any of it, that’s a rumor.”
July 8, 2015: Purported album & tracklist leak
A very low quality recording of the album and an alleged tracklist surface on Reddit. Bruno Mars makes the cut, “Wolves” does not.
July 24, 2015: “All Day/I Feel Like That” video installation in L.A.
Kanye finally debuts that Steve McQueen-directed, single-take video at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which includes the second half of the visual featuring probable Swish track “I Feel Like That.”
August 5, 2015: Theophilus heard the album again, offers high praise
Ye played the album in Toronto on repeat its HI Key over for everybody . Everybody. Also Rodeo hi key about to change lives of the youth — Theophilus London (@TheophilusL) August 6, 2015
August 28, 2015: The Weeknd thanks Kanye, and maaaybe, if you squint, indicates they have future collabs on the way
Thank you @kanyewest for pushing me to be the greatest I can be. You are endless inspiration and wisdom. So much more magic ahead.
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) August 28, 2015
August 31, 2015: Travi$ Scott’s “Piss On Your Grave” surfaces
It appears Kanye’s “Piss On My Grave” collab with Macca ended up being scrapped and transformed into this version of the song that appeared on Rodeo.
September 16, 2015: West debuts new song at Yeezy Season 2 fashion show
His last-minute New York Fashion Week show featured chunks of new music that were quickly ripped online, including an apparently full song featuring T$ and Post Malone.
September 24, 2015: Actually the album might be a year away
In an interview with Vanity Fair, West, ever the perfectionist, says he’d been working on “Fade” for a year and a half, adding “it may be still a year from being complete.”
December 2, 2015: Everything we think we know about Swish is a lie
G.O.O.D. Music’s new prez Pusha T says everything he’s heard on Swish “has nothing to do with any of the other records that were released before.”
January 12, 2016: Kanye is soliciting input from the Kardashians
Khloe says Ye invites them into the studio and values their opinions on his Swish material. Cancel it.
January 24, 2016: Kanye shares the album’s tracklist.
“All Day” and “Only One” don’t make the cut, “Fade,” “Real Friends,” “No More Parties In L.A.” and “Wolves” do.
January 26, 2016: Kanye changes the album’s name again, this time to WAVES.
New album title, WAVES
— KANYE WEST (@kanyewest) January 27, 2016
Honestly we weren’t so far off when, before the release date was announced, the final entry on here read: “Some Future Date: Ye changes album title to A Long Time.”
February 11, 2016:
Swish‘s WAVES‘ announced release date
Let’s see if it holds.