Happy New Year from Kanye West and freakin' Paul McCartney. The two worked on "Only One" together, the first single to West's upcoming, still-untitled new album. Spoiler: the very pretty ballad is not an embarrassing duet between the two titans, so erase any and all memories of "The Girl Is Mine." It's also the first of "several" collaborations between West and the former Beatle.
Learn more about the song's metaphysical origins below:
In early 2014, Paul McCartney and Kanye West first began working together in a small bungalow in Los Angeles. The process that would result in "Only One" began with a simple brainstorming session between the two: With McCartney improvising on the keyboards and Kanye vocally sketching and shaping ideas in a stream-of-consciousness riff.
When they played back the recording afterward, something remarkable happened. Kanye sat there with his family, holding his daughter North on his lap, and listened to his vocals, singing, "Hello, my only one . . . " And in that moment, not only could he not recall having sung those words, but he realized that perhaps the words had never really come from him.
The process of artistic creation is one that does not involve thinking, but often channeling. And he understood in that moment that his late mother, Dr. Donda West, who was also his mentor, confidante, and best friend, had spoken through him that day.
"My mom was singing to me, and through me to my daughter," he said, astonished.
The small group in the room kept listening: “Hello my Only One…just like the morning sun…you’ll keep on rising till the sky knows your name.”
To some, Kanye's insight didn't immediately register. But then he explained: The name Kanye, which his mother had chosen, means "only one."
And then it dawned on everyone there: Something powerful and undeniable had occurred through the power of music and of letting go. A message had been passed down through generations.