About a week ago, Stereogum posted a new track by Kanye West called “The Coldest Winter.” The song is built around “Memories Fade” by Tears for Fears. Now, we’ve always known that Kanye has been down with sampling stuff that’s a little more adventurous than what we’re used to in hip-hop (e.g. CAN, Paul McCartney and Wings, obscure 70s prog rock). But it seems as though Kanye has basically nicked the entire song! Hell, he effectively rewrites the chorus with his own lyrics à la Diddy.
Tears for Fears “Memories Fade” (Live on German TV)
Kanye West “The Coldest Winter” (Ripped from the radio, so apologies for the less than stellar sound quality).
I think that one commentator on Stereogum hit the nail on the head:
After heartless and love lockdown i listened to this and was like "awesome" and got some faith restored in him, especially the awesome "goodbye my friend." then i clicked on that tears for fears link and was like "nevermind" because tears for fears wrote that great hook. this isnt like rapping over a sample, this is just like covering a really good obscure song and taking the credit for it. good thing that tears for fears link was there.
I do believe that Mr. West is finally starting to run out of steam. In my opinion, the quality of his lyrics has been sliding down hill since Graduation. The man is no longer as funny and audactious as he used to be. Production wise, he’s still very much on point, but ultimately the thing that drew a lot of us to Kanye was the lyrics. He rapped about hard times, being broke and hustling for better things. Certainly the man has been going through some very difficult times due to the loss of his mother. But this song doesn't sound very inspired and it sounds more like a demo than a track on an album that's due out by Christmas.
And what's with the heavy use of autotune/vocoder ? You have all the time and money in the world, Kanye? Why not take a year off and learn how to sing?