“I Love Kanye,” the ninth track from Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo, is 45 seconds of a cappella rapping practically begging to be embellished. Indeed, though the album is barely two weeks old, numerous producers have already offered their takes on the track. “I Love Kanye” bemoans the disappearance of “the old Kanye,” and several remixes attempt to resurrect him.
Hezekiah’s version speeds up West’s rap so that it fits together with samples of “Get Em High” from The College Dropout, all as part of a soulful groove that would not be entirely out of place on that album. DJ Premier’s rendition may be the most interesting, chopping up and distorting the rap over an off-kilter piano lick, but it too mixes in a bit of “the old Kanye”—Late Registration’s iconic “Wake up Mr. West,” which also makes an appearance on The Life of Pablo’s “Famous.” And for whatever it’s worth, there’s even a whimsical version that cleverly mashes Kanye’s a capella rhymes with Seinfeld’s instantly familiar theme song.
My favorite remix, though, is Stefan Ponce’s. Ponce presents the “I Love Kanye” vocals unadulterated in concert with a schmaltzy, tuneful groove so catchy that you’ll be sorry the whole thing lasts just a minute. The accompanying video montage, meanwhile, juxtaposes sharply contrasting clips of the “old” and “new” Kanyes. The “old” Kanye dances with his mom and sports his signature pink polo, while the “new” Kanye interrupts Beck at the GRAMMYs and freaks out during a radio interview. Yet the video’s penultimate clip complicates this seemingly straightforward dichotomy. Pulled from a November 2015 TMZ video, the clip shows the “new” Kanye avoiding the gaze of a paparazzo’s camera before inexplicably breaking into a wide smile. The track, of course, is called “I Love Kanye,” not “I Love the Old Kanye.” As Ponce’s remix and video make clear, the two Kanyes—the old, sweet one and the new, rude one—have always been one and the same.