New Slaves

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"New Slaves"
Song by Kanye West from the album Yeezus
Recorded 2012
Genre Industrial hip hop
Length 4:16
Label
Writer
Producer
  • Kanye West
  • Ben Bronfman
  • Mike Dean
  • Travis Scott
  • Noah Goldstein
  • Sham Joseph
  • Che Pope

"New Slaves" is a song performed by American hip hop recording artist Kanye West, taken from his sixth studio album Yeezus (2013). It was produced by West and Ben Bronfman, with additional production from Mike Dean, Travis Scott, Noah Goldstein, Sham Joseph and Che Pope. The song features vocals from American singer-songwriter Frank Ocean, whom West previously collaborated with on Watch the Throne (2011).[1] The song discusses slavery and segregation as well as racism in general, materialism, and stereotypes of African Americans in the United States.[2] The song, despite not having been released as a single, has charted in Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The song's conclusion features Ocean singing over a sample of "Gyöngyhajú lány" (1969) by Hungarian rock band Omega.[3]

Promotion[edit]

Prior to the song's release, it was played at 66 locations whilst a black-and-white video of West performing it was projected on various buildings in various countries. Locations where it was projected include Wrigley Field as well as the Royal Ontario Museum. Miriam Coleman said the simplicity of the video "provided a striking context for the rapper's searing lyrics on race and materialism".[4] Two projections in Texas (including the Rothko Chapel) were dismissed by police prior to commencing due to a lack of permit.[5][6] The song also generated early interest when it was performed multiple times by West at venues such as the Met Ball, the Governors Ball Music Festival,[7] and Saturday Night Live.[4]

Live performances[edit]

Projection of "New Slaves" on the W Hotel in Los Angeles.

On May 17, West unveiled the previously unreleased song through video projections in 66 assorted locations.[8] "New Slaves" was performed along with "Black Skinhead" on May 18, 2013 on Saturday Night Live.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Jim Farber of the Daily News said the song has a "heavy metal girth that still swings" and called the sampling of "Gyöngyhajú lány" by Omega "the most cool, and obscure, sample" on Yeezus.[3] Robert Christgau cited "New Slaves", along with "Hold My Liquor", as the album's highlights.[10]

On June 26, 2013, Time Magazine named "New Slaves" the "Best Song of 2013 (So Far)" and later on December 20, 2013 placed it first on its "The 25 Best Songs of 2013 (The Entire Year)." [11] [12]On December 2, 2013, Complex named "New Slaves" the best song of 2013. Dave Bry commented saying, "Plenty of artists sold more records than Kanye West in 2013. No one did anything near to as artistically powerful. "New Slaves" is the best song of the year. And it's not even close."[13] NME ranked the song at number 36 on their list of the 50 best songs of 2013.[14] It was named the second best song of 2013 by Pitchfork Media. They elaborated saying, ""New Slaves" is the hardened cartilage of Yeezus, the leanest and grisliest piece of music on an album without a single yielding surface. There isn't a wasted breath or unnecessary word; every single thought cleaves through meat. [...] Yes, Kanye is a wealthy man, and yes, the particulars of his rage might be convoluted, involving his lack of access to the upper reaches of the fashion industry. But its source comes from an acute, unwavering awareness of a central fact: Even in the elite corridors of power where he now walks, some doors are still locked. On "New Slaves", he transforms into the hordes demanding entry. To paraphrase the words of his one-time mentor: The whole industry could hate him; he'll flail his way through."[15]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
position
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[16] 99
France (SNEP)[17] 152
UK R&B (Official Charts Company)[18] 20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[19] 97
US Billboard Hot 100[20] 56
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[21] 17
US Hot Rap Songs (Billboard)[22] 13

References[edit]

  1. ^ Diep, Eric (June 14, 2013). "Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’ Hits The Internet Four Days Early". XXL. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ Kennedy, John (May 17, 2013). "Read The Controversial Lyrics To Kanye West's 'New Slaves'". Vibe. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Farber, Jim (June 14, 2013). "Kanye West's 'Yeezus' is as much industrial rock as rap: music review". Daily News. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Coleman, Miriam (May 18, 2013). "Kanye West Premieres 'New Slaves' With Video Projections Around the World - Video". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  5. ^ Boardman, Madeline (May 25, 2013). "Kanye West's Houston Projection Of 'New Slaves' Halted By Police". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  6. ^ Blistein, Jon (May 28, 2013). "Kanye West's 'New Slaves' Screening Fizzles at the Alamo". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ Farber, Jim (June 10, 2013). "Kanye West unveils new industrial style at Governors Ball Music Fest". Daily News. Retrieved June 15, 2013. 
  8. ^ Battan, Carrie (May 17, 2013). "Watch: Kanye West Projects New Video "New Slaves" on Buildings Around the World". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  9. ^ West, Kanye (May 18, 2013). "Kanye West - Black Skinhead (Live on SNL)". YouTube (New York). Retrieved July 3, 2013. 
  10. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 2, 2013). "Odds and Ends 031". MSN Music. Retrieved July 2, 2013. 
  11. ^ Locker, Melissa, "The 25 Best Songs of 2013 (So Far).", 26 June 2013, Time, Retrieved July 22nd, 2013.
  12. ^ http://entertainment.time.com/2013/12/20/the-25-best-songs-of-2013-the-entire-year/slide/no-1-new-slaves-kanye/
  13. ^ http://www.complex.com/music/2013/12/best-songs-of-2013/kanye-west-new-slaves
  14. ^ http://www.nme.com/photos/nme-s-50-best-tracks-of-2013/326746/1/1#15
  15. ^ http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/9288-the-top-tracks-of-2013/10/
  16. ^ "Kanye West Album & Song Chart History" Canadian Hot 100 for Kanye West. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  17. ^ "Lescharts.com – Kanye West – New Slaves" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  18. ^ "Archive Chart" UK R&B Chart. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  19. ^ CHART: CLUK Update 29.06.2013 (wk25) (in German). zobbel.de Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  20. ^ "Kanye West Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Kanye West. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  21. ^ "Kanye West Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for Kanye West. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
  22. ^ "Kanye West Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Rap Songs for Kanye West. Retrieved January 18, 2014.