Is Drake inside Kanye West’s head? That’s the impression one gets after listening to “Facts,” a schizophrenic new song Yeezy released onto his SoundCloud page a few hours before the New Year’s Eve ball drop.
A sample of the chorus to Father’s Children’s 1989 ditty “Dirt and Grime” segues into swirling low-register beats with twinkling ivory accompaniment, supplied by producers Metro Boomin and Southside. “Yeezy Yeezy Yeezy just jumped over ‘Jumpman,’” raps West, mimicking Drake’s flow on the track “Jumpman” off his bestselling mixtape with Future, What a Time to Be Alive. Like “Facts,” that tune was produced by Metro Boomin—and three of the tracks off WATTBA came courtesy of Southside, so here, West has decided to reappropriate Drake and Future’s knob wizards in the service of a long, meandering aside about his corporate woes.
West has made no secret of his disdain for shoemaker Nike, who hosted the release of his Air Yeezys back in 2009, followed by the Air Yeezy IIs. Following the release of his Red Octobers, West left Nike, furious over his lack of design power and meager compensation for the sneakers—since the brand refused to cut him in on the profits—and moved over to Adidas.
This brings us back to “Facts,” parts of which play like a diss track against the swoosh. “If Nike ain’t had Drizzy man they wouldn’t have nothin’!” West shrieks, followed later on by, “I’ve been trending years, y’all a couple days. Yeezy in the house and we just got appraised. Nike treat employees just like slaves.”
Drake had a huge 2015 with two of his mixtapes hitting No. 1, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and What a Time to Be Alive. On top of that, he made an example out of Nicki Minaj’s cabana boy Meek Mill, and the silly music video for his “Hotline Bling” went viral, boosting the song up the charts. It’s Drake’s biggest hit single yet. The Canadian MC also forged lucrative corporate bonds with Apple and Nike, and a romantic one with the most dominant athlete alive, Serena Williams. Oh, and Drizzy grew a beard and got ripped, perhaps in an attempt to silence those who feel the hybrid rap/R&B star is softer than a pair of baby thighs.
So it’s understandable that, despite their lovely moment with Will Smith at Drake’s OVO Fest, Yeezy feels his throne may be in jeopardy. After all, the Yeezy Boosts aside, West’s professional 2015 mostly consisted of dropping a bizarre, Jedi-inspired fashion line, a few forgettable singles, joining forces with the flailing Tidal, and announcing a pseudo-presidential run at the VMAs.
All of this may explain why “Facts” has Drake’s fingerprints all over it, from the sneak-release on SoundCloud to employing the WATTBA producers to sending up Drake’s flow on “Jumpman.” Kanye is at his best when he’s angry and inspired, not nervous.
“Facts” is littered with poorly-conceived rhymes, from “I stuck to my Roots, I’m like Jimmy Fallon” to “Do anybody feel bad for Bill Cosby? Did he forget the names just like Steve Harvey?”—though referencing Harvey’s Miss Universe flap indicates the track was finished quite recently.
The disappointing song does end with a glimmer of hope, however, with West hinting that he might open his own hotel, presumably filled with Le Corbusier lamps. Sign me up.