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Discussion Starter #1

I am planning to make a production encyclopedia for Kanye's discography, collating every bit of information possible about the production of all of his songs, e.g from

- Interviews
- Tweets
- Sample information
- Verified Genius annotations from producers
- Mike Dean posts

I'm hoping to start with TLOP and work backwards through his discography, but I'm very open to suggestions if others feel there is a better way to do it.


General information about the production of the overall album goes here.

1. Ultralight Beam

Producers: Kanye West, Mike Dean, Chance the Rapper, Swizz Beatz
Co-Producers: Rick Rubin, Derek Watkins
Additional Producers: Plain Pat, DJ Dodger Stadium, Noah Goldstein

Derek Watkins (aka Fonzworth Bentley) breaking down the production of the song to The Fader:
I get to the studio [in L.A.] and Mike Dean was playing the chords that you hear on the record. That was about after 10:30 p.m., 11ish. The chords just felt thick. Very thick and anointed. Swizz Beatz was there. Swizz would typically come at around 3 a.m. Swizz and I were the nocturnal ones. When I say that, understand that Ye stays longer and later than anybody. But Swizz would come through at 3 and stay until about 9 and we'd end up always being the last people there.

We were on shift as engineers at this point because we were trying to get this album done. Also we were doing G.O.O.D. Fridays. Swizz started playing with the drums, and it felt so anointed, and I heard tambourine. So I asked if we had any and he said no. So I asked Drew [Dawson], who by the grace of God has a studio around the corner, two blocks away. He said, "I got percussion over there, I got tambourines." So me and Plain Pat walked over there. It worked double because we needed to scope out another studio because we were just running out of space. DJ Dodger Stadium was using a corner of one room, we had Charlie Heat using the lounge in another room. We were really using every inch of this studio.

So Drew handed me five tambourines and I walked back [into our studio]. Swizz was still programing drums. I walked in with five tambourines and Ye's like, "Oh, you got percussion?" He starts checking them out. At this point, the drums are in there, so they're playing [the track] from the beginning again and then I hear the tambourines and I start shaking them. And Ye's like, "Record that now. Get in there." So I put on headphones and I do eight-bar intervals of that. Chance [The Rapper] was there too. I called Poo Bear, who's from College Park and wrote a lot of Justin Bieber's album. And he was with Justin at the time. I'm from Atlanta, Poo Bear is from Atlanta-so Poo Bear comes up and catches the vibe. Justin hops on the phone and is like, "Tell Yeezy whatever he needs I got it." So Justin comes through and we vibed on that. And then Ye went right in. Ye was like, "Let's all catch a freestyle."

In his freestyle he said, "This is an ultralight beam." He sings that and was singing the melody. Then Chance catches the vibe. A lot of what ended up in his verse was from this freestyle-as far as his patterns and some of the words. There weren't that many words, more so vibes and patterns. Then Justin got on the mic and sang some a capella. It was free flow. It was creativity. It was about 8 in the morning at this point. Ye had a bed set up at the studio and so he would usually take a nap for an hour or an hour-and-a-half, go to the gym, and then come right out. I was walking out [that morning] and he was walking to his room where the bed was, which was also where all the people designing merch and all of that kind of stuff. It was a real DONDA creative hub at that point. Kanye's the master orchestrator of all of it. They put the bed out and Ye was like, "Before I leave can you edit the freestyles and put them in order?" I was about to go to bed but I was like, "Sure, I got you."

So I sit there and I begin editing. I put Kanye at the top and put the other pieces in, doing what I do. Arranging is one of my strongest gifts as a producer. I get excited because I hear Kelly Price and Kirk Franklin in the choir. Clear as day, I hear that. I run out the room and I'm like, "I got to tell Swizz." And then Kanye is up. He only slept like an hour. So Ye is up-not like kinda up, he's up-up. I'm like, "I heard Kelly Price and Kirk Franklin in this choir." And he's like, "Oh, you got all the colors now." He trusts me with that. I had already sent the freestyle that I edited to [Price and Franklin] as soon as I heard it. Then Ye said, "Send them the track but put my freestyle on it." So I had to resend the email, like, "By the way, disregard anything!"

This was about 10 in the morning. I go home and sleep for a couple of hours. By the time I woke up, Kelly had called me. I'm in breakfast mode and it's about 2 p.m. and she's in Atlanta. She tells me she had recorded something. I had given her some direction: Here's the ultralight beam, here's what it means. This is that connection that goes straight to heaven. This is the thing that people say is intangible, that people try to wrap their heads around. A lot of different people articulate it in different ways, but it just made sense in the way that Kanye said it. So I sit there and play [what she sent me] in the kitchen and my wife's there. And bro, what you hear on the record is exactly what she sent. Both of us burst into tears because it was so right on. It was perfect.

Normally I'd do my normal day: get through everything, put my daughter to bed, and then get to the studio. But I could not wait for Ye to hear this. At the time, ["Ultralight Beam"] was going to be a G.O.O.D. Friday thing. We had all kinds of stuff for that initially. But we get to the studio and I'm like, "Stop everything, you've got to hear this right now." I play it for him and he closes his eyes and he's like: "Kelly. Dope. Call her in. Call Kirk in. Let's go."

Then I called Kirk. Kirk Franklin is a staple and a juggernaut of the gospel community. We got a studio for him on Saturday for the choir. How many people in the choir? We'll keep that private, we'll call that secret sauce. So we begin to have a conversation in the studio. Kirk's in there with headphones and he said, "What are you hearing?" I told him that we wanted to amplify what was already there. He began to teach the choir the parts and he taught it in seven minutes, bro. And I'm talking one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, he taught all the parts to every choir singer in seven minutes. It was like watching a master at work. It was phenomenal. He taught all of the parts and just went into it. I brought my bishop in-the same bishop that prophesied with Kelly-for him to be there in case he was hearing something else that needed to be said. We produced the choir as Ye was shooting the Rolling Stone cover with Tyler. I said, "Let me go over and grab Kanye." I wanted him to hear what we had. Kirk said, "Hold on, let me put the prayer on there."

When Kelly put her stuff down, that's when Chance was like, "I know what to write to this." He put on headphones, he locked in, and penned it out. That's when I knew that this was not going to be a G.O.O.D. Friday record. This was going to be something for the album. This was a pinnacle record that really helped shift the project to the kind of project that it is. By the time we did SNL, I don't think the record was 10 days old yet.

A Kanye album is like a working document. You don't hear the final version of it until it is available for purchase. That's just the way it works. Every producer knows that, every friend knows that. That's just the way it is. I really admire that about him: his ability to strip down a genius idea and chase another genius idea that's come to light. That's one of the biggest things I admire about his creativity. When I meet any artist in any genre, what I like to talk to them about is their editing process. People don't really see editing as an art.

We have the Academy Awards coming up-I'm going left here, just bear with me. We understand sound design, we understand the significance of the picture, but people don't give enough credence to the editor, who is such an amazing artist. That is one of Kanye's greatest gifts: his ability to hear and see and to execute editing. He's never married to anything. The best idea wins. You've got to understand, everybody wasn't completely on board with the choir and all this stuff. Some people thought it might be too literal, but again, like I said, the best idea wins. Kanye allowed me to see the fullness of that vision out. So now we can see the gumbo. Then we can decide like, "OK, we don't need okra in there, maybe we should have used Italian sausage."

2. Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1

Producers: Kanye West, Mike Dean, Rick Rubin
Co-Producers: Metro Boomin
Additional Producers: DJ Dodger Stadium, Allen Ritter, Noah Goldstein

3. Pt. 2

Producers: Kanye West, Menace, Rick Rubin
Co-Producers: Plain Pat
Additional Producers: Caroline Shaw

Producer Menace said about the beat, "It's very well done. They didn't change a lot, apart from the flip in the beginning. A lot of people were saying, "Why is Metro Boomin credited on your beat?" It splits. Metro Boomin does "Pt. 1"-his track finished at the beginning of my track and slowly drifts into mine, so it blends. I'm credited."​

4. Famous

Producers: Kanye West, Havoc
Co-Producers: Noah Goldstein, Charlie Heat, Andrew Dawson
Additional Producers: Hudson Mohawke, Mike Dean, Plain Pat
Vocal Producers: Kuk Harrell

Havoc discussing the production of the song with DX:
"It was really, really creative," he tells DX of the studio session that ultimately produced the song. "He has a lot of input and because he knows what he wants. He gets a lot of input from the producer as well. He was interesting to work with him because I've never really worked with him before so I didn't know what to expect. But it was really dope because for a brief moment, I got to get inside [his head] and see how he operates as an artist and producer."

Havoc discussing the production of the song with XXL:
"Famous" features some great production from you. How did this song come together with yourself and Kanye?
Well, basically I had sent the tracks over there and I didn't know which ones they was gonna use. So then when I got over there, they was letting me hear references to some of the things that they did on some of my tracks. It was a few and "Famous" was one of 'em. And when I heard it, it was just a reference; it wasn't finished or nothing like that and I was like, "Oh shit, this is kinda dope" and it was just in its beginning stages and he had the idea for how he wanted to go. And he was asking me what did I think about it and I just told him "This shit's kinda dope" and we just started working on it more from there and he just took it to another level.

What was your creative process with that beat?
Pretty much, I was just there. It was just me, Kanye, his engineer, Noah [Goldstein] and we was just going through mad songs and listen to stuff. We would settle on certain songs and that was one of the songs that we settled on. And like I said, he already had the inspiration for the song, I was just included in the process, thankfully and I just did what I do, you know, the gritty sounds, the drums or whatever. Crazy snares. But he had already had the vision for the song.
A lot of times, if it's a song that he has and if he's gonna ask to collaborate with somebody, he already has a vision. So you just wanna jump into the vision, you don't wanna kind of, like, change it. But he do ask for you to be like, "Yo…" if you wanna take it somewhere else 'cause it just opens up all kinds of ideas. But I was already feeling the vision that he had for it so I just tried to enhance it in any way that I could

Did you have a hand in bringing in any of the samples on this record?
The sample that I had was the main one that he's rhyming over. It's not the Jamaican sample towards the end, it's the main one when the song first comes on when the beat drops. I don't know when the other samples was done but the one that I did, that was there first, originally. So I chopped up a nice little record and did that, so that was the main one. And then I didn't hear everything else he had done to it upon the final release, but when I heard it, I was like, "Oh shit," you know what I'm saying. He made a collage of it and it was dope.

Why did those particular samples stand out to you?
These days, I like to really fuck with a lot of progressive sounds so whenever I hear something progressive, that just jumps out at me. I can't do just normal samples that everybody else is doing, I just like to hear a lot of progressive, old '60s, '70s-sounding type sound and then make them sound current.

5. Feedback

Producers: Kanye West
Co-Producers: Charlie Heat, Noah Goldstein

6. Low Lights

Producers: Kanye West, DJ Dodger Stadium
Additional Producers: Mike Dean

7. Highlights

Producers: Kanye West, Mike Dean
Co-Producers: Velous, Southside
Additional Producers: Plain Pat, Noah Goldstein

8. Freestyle 4

Producers: Kanye West
Co-Producers: Hudson Mohawke, Noah Goldstein, Mike Dean
Additional Producers: DJ Dodger Stadium, Caroline Shaw, Trevor Gureckis

9. I Love Kanye

Producers: Kanye West

10. Waves

Producers: Kanye West, Charlie Heat
Co-Producers: Hudson Mohawke, Metro Boomin, Mike Dean
Additional Producers: Anthony Kilhoffer

11. FML

Producers: Kanye West, Mitus
Co-Producers: Metro Boomin, Noah Goldstein, Mike Dean
Additional Producers: Charlie Heat, Hudson Mohawke, Andrew Dawson

Producer Mitus talking with Noisey about working on the song:
So, what about working on "FML"?
That weird sound you hear through most of the song is mine, the bassline, the snare. Kanye put the sample at the end. That song was completely different before. The way he works is super interesting. He'll make four or five versions of any song, each with completely different beats. At the last minute, my beat made it.

Did you get in the studio with him much?
I got in the studio with him twice, once with Rihanna, and another time I went to his house and spent 9 or ten hours working which was pretty dope.

What was it like seeing him work?
It was awesome. I'm surprised I wasn't more nervous. To be able to pause for a second and just look at him playing was so awesome. He's my idol. I still haven't gotten over it to be honest. He's so hands on. Nobody does anything for him. I've been in the studio with major producers before and they would have engineers do everything for them, but he does it all himself. It's pretty dope.

12. Real Friends

Producers: Kanye West, Boi-1da
Co-Producers: Frank Dukes, Havoc
Additional Producers: Mike Dean, Darren King, Noah Goldstein, Sevn Thomas

Discussing the song, co-producer Frank Dukes stated "Kanye is producing in the true sense of the word. 'Real Friends' was an idea started by me and Boi-1da. We passed it off to Kanye, and Kanye kind of stripped it down and had Havoc add some drums to it. Kanye had the vision. That's really true-school production."

In an interview with XXL, Havoc said about 'Real Friends' :
You also co-produced on "Real Friends." Did you work on that before or after "Famous?"
The "Real Friends" was second because the "Famous" beat was one of the first ones we started working on when we first started working on it. And we worked on several tracks, but those were the two that ended up making it so, you know, I ain't mad, I'm just glad I made it on the album at all 'cause they got a lot of dope material over there and they could have definitely not even used those two and still have a great album, you know what I mean.
So the "Real Friends" beat was second. I remember hearing the track and getting it and was asked to do whatever to it. So I tried a couple of things and what ended up being on there is just the drums of what I did. And that was kinda dope because the drums are pretty hard and a good element tot that track.

Did you and Frank Dukes work on the song together or separately?
It was at separate times and I definitely gotta say that Frank Dukes and Boi-1da are two producers that I highly respect in the game. I was glad to be working alongside them too. I worked with Boi-1da and I worked with Frank Dukes before so I already knew their capabilities. I didn't even know that it was them that did the music on that track at the time. I didn't even know who did it I just got the track and started doing stuff to it.
So when I found out that they was involved with it, I was like, "Oh shit, that's dope." So we definitely did it at different times, which was kind of cool 'cause now you're building something. Listening to the song now, I would say Frank Dukes and Boi-1da's parts must've came first 'cause whatever they did is what I received. But from what I can hear now, their stuff was on there first.

Did you draw from any of your personal experiences with past friends while working on the track?
When I heard the song and I was listening to the lyrics, it's, like, something that I can relate to, about "Real Friends." We're always like "Who the fuck is our real friend." And when you ask that question, it kinda puts you in a dark place sometimes and that's how I heard the drums. So I drew from my own experience while listening to it and I just had this dark feeling and that's how I was able to create those drums to it.

13. Wolves

Producers: Kanye West, Cashmere Cat, Sinjin Hawke, Mike Dean
Additional Producers: Noah Goldstein, Caroline Shaw

14. Frank's Track

Producers: Kanye West, Sinjin Hawke, Cashmere Cat

15. Siiiiiiiiilver Surffffeeeeer Intermission

Producers: Kanye West

16. 30 Hours

Producers: Kanye West, Karriem Riggins, Mike Dean
Additional Producers: Noah Goldstein

17. No More Parties in LA

Producers: Kanye West, Madlib

18. Facts (Charlie Heat Version)

Producers: Kanye West, Metro Boomin, Southside, Charlie Heat

In an interview with Complex, Charlie Heat discussed his rework of the song:
Was your version of "Facts" already in the stash or did you rework it?
I just went in and did a little rework. Big shout out to [Metro and Southside]. They definitely influence everything that's going on right now. But pretty much, I'm trying to bring my own interpretation of musicality and hard drums, I'm trying to mix those as my style and my stamp on music. You heard in "Facts," I had basic, classical 101 chord progressions on there, or whatever you wanna call it, but it's still musical. That compliments Kanye's delivery and cadences very well. It sounds so different. A lot of people think he did something different, but nothing was different but the beat.[To have] somebody fresh and new with a sound that really hasn't come to the forefront as much go in on one song, it's gonna come out that much different. Not saying it's for better or worse.

19. Fade

Producers: Kanye West
Co-Producers: Anthony Kilhoffer, Benji B, Mike Dean, Charlie Handsome
Additional Producers: DJ Dodger Stadium, Noah Goldstein

20. Saint Pablo

Producers: Kanye West, Mike Dean
Co-Producers: Allen Ritter
Additional Producers: Noah Goldstein


184 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
I uploaded this because i don't know how to save a draft and need to go to sleep lol. Any new info/formatting advice/help or whatever is much appreciated

184 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Actavis Prime said:
Pretty much to learn more about the production process for the album. I've already learnt a few things from the havoc interviews. If everyone pitches in we can hopefully all found out a few things about how our favourite songs are made.

184 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
versacibandit said:
Sometimes I wonder how much does he still actually does production wise :khaled: Like did he come up with the feedback beat by himself? Almost no co producers  on it.
Yeah its really hard to tell what a Kanye production credit actually means nowadays. For some songs (like All We Got and Famous), we know he made significant portions of the beat. But there have been plenty of other beats where producers have claimed they produced almost all of it, but Kanye still ends out with a primary production credit (e.g Bitch Better Have My Money)
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