Was Kanye West's "Brothers" An Apology To Jay-Z?

Kanye West’s artistic trajectory has been subject to fierce debate since the arrival of Yeezus, his most divisive album by far. It’s no wonder, as Ye’s emphasis on exploring uncharted sonic territory came at a steep cost: his bars. Of course, flourishes of peak Ye have emerged on various tracks, with “No More Parties In LA” standing as one of his best verses to date. Yet the days of “Gorgeous” and “Devil In A New Dress” are long gone, and fans have come to expect little where Yeezy’s pen game is concerned. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that hype for Yandhi continues to brew, and last night, Kanye delivered a possible peek at his current musical direction.

Enter “Brothers,” a soulful track premiered via Irv Gotti’s BET series Tales. Produced by Irv Gotti and Seven, “Brothers” evokes shades of a bygone Ye, employing an uplifting vocal sample and College Dropout-era production. Though we’ve briefly seen Kanye flirt with his formative style before, “Brothers” feels like a full commitment to revisiting a fan-favorite era, shedding the dissonance of “XTC” and the playfully avant-garde “Lift Yourself.”

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Lyrically, Ye calls back to the Graduation days, once again touching on themes of brotherhood. While he doesn’t overtly express it by name, all signs point to “Brothers” being an apology of sorts to Jay-Z; recall that Kanye once referred to Jay as his “big brother” on Graduation’s closing track. Even the lyrics lend themselves to their publicized falling out. “I miss the fam and our brotherhood, I just wanna make sure that my brother’s good,” he raps. “So I ain’t embarrassed or above, flying out to Paris for a hug.” It’s hard not to think of their collaborative hit “N***as In Paris” upon hearing that line, which certainly reinforces the Jay theory. 

Moving forward with that narrative, perhaps we can see…

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