Kanye West's most left-field collaborations, from Kenny G to Elton John
Months after saxophonist Kenny G helped Kanye West surprise wife Kim Kardashian on Valentine’s Day, the jazz artist was featured on West’s new album Jesus Is King. Kenny G’s solo on the song “Use This Gospel” has thrown many West fans for a loop.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. West loves a good curveball. He shocked Mike Myers during a live telethon after Hurricane Katrina, Taylor Swift many, many times, and his music collaborations are no exception.
Here are the West collaborations that made us go, “huh, really?” the most.
Kenny G – “Use This Gospel”
About two and half minutes into the song, Kenny G rips a heavenly sax solo that sends us into the stratosphere. As mentioned above, what we do know about this collaboration is that Kenny G was in West’s cavernous home on Valentine’s Day to help with a little favor.
We have no idea how Kenny G got out of the bed of roses, but we do know, via TMZ, that the musician was approached about it the night before from “friends of Kanye’s.” What a flex by West. He must have brought up collaborating that day, right? Kill two birds with one Kenny G?
Katy Perry – “E.T.”
This Katy Perry collab happened the same year West released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The rapper opens up the song with the lyrics “I’ve got a dirty mind / I got filthy ways,” a sexual brashness we weren’t exactly used to with Perry.
Elton John – “All of the Lights”
You may not be able to tell right away, but Elton John provided the piano and some of the background vocals for this Grammy-winning song. Alicia Keys and Fergie also provided background vocals. The “Rocket Man” singer has called West a “stone-cold genius,” so maybe it’s only a matter of time before we get West’s very own biopic.
Paul McCartney – “FourFiveSeconds”
As Conan O’Brien has mentioned on his podcast Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend, West and Paul McCartney have one thing in common: they’ve both had some controversy involving Jesus Christ. McCartney’s former bandmate John Lennon once said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus, and West might think he is Jesus — or Yeezus. As with Kenny G, McCartney once got a mysterious message from an unnamed person saying that West wanted to write with him sometime. Does West still do carrier pigeons?
Bon Iver – “Monster,” “Lost in the World,” “Friends,” “Take Me to the Light”
West can often be found on workout playlists, which can’t quite be said about folk artist Bon Iver. But, somehow they’ve developed a musical partnership throughout the years. Although that has likely stopped in recent years, according to Iver. “I can’t really kick it with him anymore on a personal level, just the energy,” he told Pitchfork about West. “But I’ve got mad love for him, and we’re still friends.”
Saturday Night Live
In 2010, West decided to tell off the famed sketch show in his song “Power” with the lyrics: “F— SNL and the whole cast. Tell ’em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass.” But SNL kept inviting West back, including to play that very song live in 2010. In 2018, he returned again for a musical performance full of expletives, which is uncharacteristic for a show that takes on-air cursing very seriously. Um, how do they still like each other?