"I was sitting around, strumming the guitar — that’s normally how I start a song — and Kanye was looking at his iPad, basically scrolling through images of Kim," McCartney told Billboard

By Tomás Mier
November 14, 2019 04:07 PM
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Kanye West never stops thinking about Kim Kardashian — just ask Paul McCartney.

The Beatles legend spoke about meeting with the “On God” rapper back in 2014 to produce their collaboration “Only One” — and how the 42-year-old couldn’t stop looking at photos of his wife.

“I had no idea what was going to happen,” McCartney told Billboard. “I didn’t want it to be at his house or my house, because it could be awkward if one of us wanted to leave. So we met on neutral ground — a cottage at the Beverly Hills Hotel.”

“I showed up with a guitar and my roadie, and we had a keyboard and a bass,” he continued. “I was sitting around, strumming the guitar — that’s normally how I start a song — and Kanye was looking at his iPad, basically scrolling through images of Kim.”

Along with staring at pictures of his new wife — Kimye had tied the knot earlier that year — McCartney and West shared stories with each other before working on their collab track.

Paul McCartney and Kanye West
Paul McCartney and Kanye West
| Credit: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

“At one point I told him how ‘Let It Be’ came from a dream about my mother, who had died years before, where she said, ‘Don’t worry, just let it be,’” he remembered. “He said, ‘I’m going to write a song about my mother,’ so I sat down at this little Wurlitzer keyboard and started playing some chords, and he started singing. I thought, ‘Oh, are we going to finish this?’ but that was that. And it became ‘Only One.’”

Along with “Only One,” they also collaborated on “FourFiveSeconds” with Rihanna. Once again, the genesis of the song felt unusual to McCartney.

“It’s this modern process that I was happy to open myself up to — you’ve got loads of stuff, and the skill is to distill it,” he said. “I was sitting around, just strumming a little groove and nobody said, ‘Let’s make a song of that.’ But months later I got a song with Rihanna on it and I said, ‘Where am I?’ I didn’t recognize it because they changed the key [on the guitar riff]. I thought that record was great. Every time we go to a club, my wife Nancy requests it.”

This isn’t the first time McCartney has spoken about collaborating with the rapper.

Paul McCartney on Billboard cover
Credit: Billboard

In 2016, he opened up about working together to Rolling Stone, saying that West’s style reminded him of Andy Warhol and how he didn’t “know how I’m going to fit into that.”

“The only deal I made with Kanye was that if it doesn’t work, we won’t tell anyone,” he told Rolling Stone, before adding that he would sometimes listen to hip hop. “I listen to it for, you could call it, education. I hear a lot of it and go to concerts occasionally. I went to see Jay Z and Kanye when they toured. I’ve seen Drake live. It’s the music of now.”

In the same interview, McCartney refrained from calling the rapper a genius.

“I don’t throw that word around [laughs]. I think he’s a great artist,” he said. “Take My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. I played it when I was cooking, and it was like, ‘This is good. There’s some really innovative stuff.’”

“When I wrote with John [Lennon], he would sit down with a guitar. I would sit down. We’d ping-pong until we had a song. It was like that [with Kanye],” he told The Sun.

Along with “FourFiveSeconds” and “Only One,” West and McCartney work together on Grammy-nominated track “All Day” with Theophilus London and Allan Kingdom.