Where next, Mr. West?

Where next, Mr. West?

by Jovelle Melad
4 min

It’s no secret that Ye loves an outlandish studio location. Recently though, he’s gone ‘Off The Grid’ in a new obscure location to work on an upcoming project – which looks like it’ll be the highly anticipated collaborative album with Ty Dolla $ign

@hidden.ny ©

The location in question? Al Ula, Saudi Arabia – known for its desert views and heritage sites – but also for being a “cursed place”, according to the Qur’an. In Islam, Allah destroyed the people of Thamud (the ancient site on which Ye’s currently residing) for being disobedient – which makes Ye’s choice an interesting one.

As we know, Ye is no stranger to the art of disappearing. In September 2008, less than a year after his mother Donda passed away, he headed to Avex Recording Studio in Honolulu, Hawaii, for three weeks to work on 808s & Heartbreak, alongside Kid Cudi and Mike Ross. As well as being an iconic album referencing the 808 drum in its own right, “808” is also the area state code of Hawaii.

Then came 2010 – fleeing after that VMA incident, Ye returned to Honolulu where he lived for six months writing and recording My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy with music’s most prolific artists including Jay-Z, RZA, Elton John, Drake, Nicki Minaj and more. This “Runaway” era came with a set of rules including “no hipster hats” which were individually plastered across the studio wall. 

According to Chris Rock, everyone in the studio had to wear a suit – “I thought he had flown in a bunch of guys from like Europe or something. All the engineers were in black suits, white shirts and black ties.”  The Hawaiian studio was reportedly one of the locations where Ye and Jay’s collaborative album Watch The Throne was recorded.

Fast forward to The Life of Pablo: after embarking on a now infamous 20 minute speech on tour, Ye was hospitalised and seemed to be laying low until the “Wyoming Sessions” –  the five album rollout of Summer 2018 – which included his self-titled album Ye. Notably, these were all recorded on his Wyoming ranch – secluded, isolated and obscure, and the album was created in an attempt to “forgive and stop hating.”

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The obscurity doesn’t end there. In 2021, while finishing up Donda, Ye lived inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz stadium for two weeks in a cell-like room with no windows or furniture (other than a locker-sized wardrobe and an undressed single bed.) 

So why does he do it? Lots of artists flee from the limelight to create music, but something different is going on here. Ye’s escapism to these outlandish recording locations is exactly that – escapism, as it generally follows a scandal or turning point in his life. And whilst he is supposedly off-grid for these periods, people always seem to know about it. How underground can a (live-streamed) stadium in the middle of Atlanta really be, after all?

These aren’t just your bog standard studios: Ye holes up in the desert, an isolated ranch, or tropical retreat to get down to business. As much as these places offer solitude and solace after a tumultuous period, they also seem to serve to inspire him in their natural beauty. Then there’s the whole god complex, too: he’s not just a regular artist, he’s a mega-rich one, uniquely able to disappear to these places.

A pattern has emerged: scandal, isolation, album. Which begs the question – where next, Mr. West? 

More on Culted

See: Is Ty Dolla $ign finally releasing his new album with Ye? 

See: I’m telling you right now, Kanye West is not real

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