Kanye West became hip-hop establishment because he was never willing to conform to other artists’ styles. But in the last few months, the 41-year-old visionary reversed course, skewing his own sound by ingratiating himself to the SoundCloud generation. In some cases, it’s been commercially successful (albeit creatively bankrupt) like “I Love It” featuring Lil Pump. And in other cases, flat-out disturbing, like his XXXTentacion collaboration “One Minute.”
But on YNW Melly‘s “Mixed Personalities,” West’s vision is realized. The song, from its Cole Bennett-directed visual to its overtly processed vocals, sounds unmistakably current. But West’s verse amplifies how indebted YNW Melly is to West’s now-classic album 808s & Heartbreak. By rediscovering his old sound the way a new generation hears it, West sounds completely revitalized.
“I think I got mixed personalities/This bitch switched up my whole mentality,” Kanye sings through AutoTune with glee. The line feels like it was delivered with a wink. After the ye artist spent the majority of 2018 dealing with the stigma of his mental health issues it’s disarming to hear him sing about “Mixed Personalities” in the context of a straight forward pop song. It’s also a tad offensive (but even that harks back to peak-Ye.)
Instead of overwhelming “Mixed Personalities” with his sonic footprint, West is comfortable playing co-conspirator to YNW Melly. The Florida rapper is rising thanks to emotionally raw songs like “Murder on my Mind,” so it’s nice to see Melly on the happier side of the spectrum for a change.