Track of the Day: 'Real Friends'

On Monday, I wondered whether the surprising Kanye West track released on New Year’s Day was meant to signal that the rapper who’d spent most of 2015 making headlines for fatherhood, fashion, and presidential ambitions was refocusing on the art form that made him famous. Today, there’s more evidence that that’s the case: As announced by Kim Kardashian on Twitter, the man who The Atlantic once labeled “American Mozart” seems to be reviving the weekly single series that preceded his 2010 masterwork My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Listen to the unembeddable track here.

Like his first 2016 song, “Facts,” this week’s “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in LA” (which seems to be just a preview snippet) see West throwing himself back into the fractious and vibrant rap landscape he’d seemed to be ignoring. The main preoccupation here is about knowing who to trust when you’re as in demand as West is; Kendrick Lamar and Ty Dolla $ign, both featured, apparently have passed the test. He also takes some barely veiled shots at Drake, as is fashionable: “To be honest, dawg I ain't feelin' your energy.”

The wistful piano and soupy-soul beats sound very pre-Yeezus—these aren’t noise experiments—as does West’s laid-back tone. After the long holiday break, you may or may not be able to relate here:

I'm a deadbeat cousin, I hate family reunions
Fuck the church up, I'm drinkin' at the communion
Spillin' free wine, now my tux is ruined

Stay good, regardless.