Kanye West's "Mercy" Explained By Phoenix Producer Lifted
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Despite a release date of Tuesday, September 4, and recently unveiled cover art, it's hard to say exactly what to expect from Kanye West's upcoming G.O.O.D. Music compilation Cruel Summer (though "Perfect Bitch," his ode to Kim Kardashian is probably going to be on there).
Rumors indicate a massive guest list, potentially including Frank Ocean, Jay Electronica, Marsha Ambrosius , Q-Tip, Kid Cudi, John Legend, Common, Mr Hudson, Cyhi da Prince, Mos Def, Teyana Taylor, Malik Yusuf, members of Odd Future, Jay-Z, and who-knows-who-else. To be it softly, the record is highly anticipated.
Not even G.O.O.D. Music producer Lifted, who splits his time in Phoenix and Los Angeles, knows what to expect, aside from one concrete detail: It's going to include the mega-hit he produced, the thundering and ominous "Mercy," featuring West, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, and Pusha T.
As discussed in our August 2 issue, Lifted, 1/2 of hip-pop due The New F-Os and producer, hooked up with the G.O.O.D. Music folks via Phoenix rapper iRoc and producer/director Che Viscous.
"I got a call from Che -- like, 'G.O.O.D. Music likes one of your joints,' and I'm like, 'Yeah, whatever,'" Lifted says.
"Because we hear shit all the time. I'll go run and tell everyone and it doesn't happen. So I didn't say shit this time. Then I hear Kanye likes it, and I'm like, no way. Shit. This is crazy. Now we're talking. Next call was, 'Kanye wants to sign you' [as a producer]." That joint became "Mercy," which has been certified platinum since its digital debut on April 3, 2012.
The song's prominent hook comes courtesy of YB, one of the clients at Mamera Studios in Phoenix, where Lifted produces and engineers. "He's a young kid, like 18 or 19 now," Lifted says. "When I made the beat I needed a vocal to sample. I took his ['Lambo'] verse and pieces of it and made it the 'Mercy' chorus."
Don't be surprised to hear more YB in Lifted's future beats: since the explosion of "Mercy," he's been a go-to vocalist for the producer. "His tone is so crazy to pitch down, to screw. His voice normal is cool, but there's something special about his tone shifted down."
"The stars aligned, dude," Lifted says of the track's unintended connection to West's Lamborghini-based ideas for the G.O.O.D. Music album and short film.
"'Lambo' is what the beat was called, and they liked it. The movie and the album was originally called Cruel Summer: Tale of the Lamborghini Dons, and they're lambrogini thieves in the movie...I had this joint about Lamborghinis and they heard that and were like 'Oh, shit!"
Once in the hands of G.O.O.D.'s staff, the beat morphed. The distinctive Super Beagle and Fuzzy Jones samples were added, giving the track a dancehall feel. "I actually didn't add that. We went to New York for a writing session, I sat in on the mixing on the record and that was added, [as was] the Kanye section, that Scarface-ish breakdown." Upon its digital-only release, the song went to number one on both the US Billboard Hot Rap Songs and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. "It's crazy," Lifted says, shaking his head and taking long drag from a cigarette.
Cruel Summer will most likely feature more beats Lifted. He's been demoing more work for West, coming up with expressive beats that touch on indie rock crunch, Middle Eastern motifs (a favorite of West), post-rock grandeur, and driving synth pop.
"I've just kept writing music. Shit's going good. I'm happy to be there. I told everyone I'm just trying to prove myself, trying to prove my position, and everyone's telling me, 'You're here for a reason, dude.' You just remember that, 'You're here for a reason.'"
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