Truth be told, music leaks every day, and while some artists' pre-release material might move the news cycle for a bit, no one can dominate a conversation quite like Kanye West. Over the years, his leaks have become the thing of legend, with entire sections of the internet dedicated to cataloging the build-up of new Kanye music, watching it evolve from demos and pre-release material to the finished product (or, in the case of The Life of Pablo, the songs' evolution).
This is something to ponder as we try to figure out what his most recent leaks will end up being. Boasting features from Young Thug, Migos, and ASAP Rocky, the songs have been teased for over a year, with no clear cut indication on where they'd end up. Judging by Kanye's leak history, we might not even get the same songs that we heard this week.
Let's look back at Kanye West's leaked track history in recent times.
May 28, 2010: No one man should leak all that “Power”
Long before we knew what a powerhouse of an album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy would turn into, Kanye fans were just hoping he was on his way back toward traditional hip-hop after 2008's 808s and Heartbreak.
When “Power” leaked in the spring of 2010, it was all the evidence we needed to declare Kanye was back. There weren't a whole lot of changes in the song in the time between the leak and the album's final release, but the initial product was so good that it didn't really matter.
May 31, 2013: Q-Tip introduced us to “Mama's Boyfriend”
A track by the name of “Mama's Boy” had been rumored amongst Kanye fans for years, and was allegedly rapped a capella at the Facebook offices during the promotional tour for MBDTF. It didn't end up on the album, and a fake version would eventually surface on the internet in 2011.
Mercifully, Q-Tip freed what sounds like a final version of the song titled “Mama's Boyfriend” while lecturing at the Red Bull Music Academy in 2013. The upbeat snippet didn't sound like it would have fit on MBDTF, but at least it was finally confirmed to be a real track.
Aug. 12, 2014: Someone recorded “All Day” on their phone
The fight to be first on the internet is real, and it was part of the reason “All Day” hit the streets long before the scheduled release date. The leaked version was reportedly unfinished, and Kanye claimed to continue working on the song until March 2015.
Despite the shoddy quality and incomplete nature of the original “All Day” leak, it managed to rise to No. 1 on Billboard's Twitter Trending 140 for five hours. That's the power of Kanye in a nutshell.
March 11, 2015: Kanye thinks Kim Kardashian is “Awesome”
Kanye first played this song for a Met Gala crowd way back in 2013, but it took another two years—and a stolen Kanye laptop—for this song to hit the internet. “Awesome” is believed to be a salute to his wife, Kim Kardashian, but the response to the song was nothing like the title.
Fans have warmed up to Kanye's use of Auto-Tune over the years, but things went into overkill on this one. “Awesome” was never released officially, and maybe that's for the best.
April 11, 2015: Kanye's got the “Midas Touch”
Dropping seemingly out of nowhere, this gold-themed song was speculated to be a reference track for Rihanna, in the same vein of her song “Bitch Better Have My Money.” Her name is all over the track, and Kanye was working together with Rihanna at the time, with their song “Four Five Seconds” releasing months prior to the “Midas Touch” leak.
That's all speculation, however, because there has been no indication since the leak about what the song was supposed to become. Consider this a partially-unsolved mystery.
Jan. 21, 2016: Miley Cyrus hops on “Black Skinhead”
Kanye loves boasting about his ability to mix untraditional combinations of artists—call him Kwa-li or Kwe-li, he'll put him on songs with Jay-Z—and putting Miley Cyrus on a song called “Black Skinhead” certainly qualifies. Cyrus sang lyrics from Tears For Fears' “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” while West switched up the delivery of his lyrics, mixing in Travis Scott vocals alongside a toned-down inflection.
Mike Will hinted the song was in the works dating back to 2013, and hopefully you took advantage of the leak when it finally emerged, because it's a difficult track to hunt down these days.
Feb. 18, 2016: Reddit user releases a whole lot of Pablo tracks
The Life of Pablo is more of a “living” album than a traditional release, and one rambunctious Redditor thought he'd join the creative process for Kanye's latest solo album. Just days after Kanye released Pablo, original or demo versions emerged, including the original version of “Wolves,” full versions of “Waves” and “Fade,” and new tracks like “Only One,” “New Angels,” and a remix of “All Day.”
Kanye wasn't shy about telling the public he had a whole lot of unreleased music in the vault during TLOP, but he didn't comment on this particular leak.
March 31, 2016: Apple Music accidentally leaks “Saint Pablo”
Rappers are always happy to tell you when a record label or third party screws the pooch, and Kanye had a case to make when “Saint Pablo” leaked in early 2016. Ye's link up with Sampha was accidentally posted on Apple Music for a few hours in March, taken down, and then eventually added to Pablo in mid-June.
It wasn't an unknown property when the tech giant let it fly—Kanye had been performing it at shows prior to the leak—but come on, Apple. You only had one job!
Oct. 6, 2016: A Young Thug-assisted version of “Famous” hits the net
Kanye's controversial Pablo track came under fire for targeting pop icon Taylor Swift, but an unreleased version of the song that surfaced later in 2016 changed the formula entirely. Rihanna and Swizz Beatz' vocals got dropped from the track in favor of Young Thug, and West name-dropped his ex, Amber Rose, rather than firing shots at Swift in the track's intro.
The Kanye-Thug collaboration sounded like it was unfinished, but I guess we'll never know—we're still waiting for an official release of this one.
June 4, 2017: Collaborations with Young Thug, Migos, ASAP Rocky, and Travis Scott surface
Individuals behind a site called Music Mafia allegedly hacked Drake's Twitter and afterward were able to get their hands on two songs from Kanye—”Hold Tight” featuring Migos and Young Thug and “Euro (Switch Hands)” featuring ASAP Rocky—as well as a preview of another track with Travis Scott.
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