“Gone” (feat. Cam’ron & Consequence)
Whoa. So this song basically totally encapsulates all sorts of the shit about rap music that I lack any clue about. Let me try to muddle through a bit of that, and then write a bit more about the song.
Kanye produced “Dead Or Alive” for Cam’ron back in 2002. This was on Cam’ron’s first album for Roc-a-Fella, Come Home With Me. Being a house producer, Kanye made some songs for Cam’ron and The Diplomats for the first half of the decade. Then there was some minor controversy about Brian “All Day” Miller (and not Kanye) producing the Purple Haze highlight “Down And Out”. Now at this point, Kanye’s finally got Cam on a track of his, but a few years later he’d speak kind of ambivalently about Cam in Graduation highlight “Everything I Am”, saying,
I never rock a mink coat in the winter time like Killa Cam
Or rock some mink boots in the summertime like Will.i.am
Let me know if you feel it man
‘cause everything I’m not, made me everything I am
The cause of the fallout was all behind the scenes. In a Late Registration-era interview, Kanye’s very candid:
Sway: So Dame Dash pretty much put his stamp on you and validated you, in a sense. When the Roc-A-Fella team broke up recently, you chose to stick with Jay-Z. Why did you choose to stick with him when it seems that Dame was the one who supported you in the beginning? Do you think that’s disloyal?
West: [He pauses.] Um, yeah.
Sway: You do think it’s disloyal?
West: Yup. But you gotta make that decision. I felt like with the relationship that me and Jay built after I was on Roc-A-Fella, we had built a different type of relationship, it was a working musical relationship because of the production, and I built more like a business relationship with Dame because of all the ventures he wanted to involve me with. And not to be cliché, but it’s like I was between a rock and a hard place. And it was just like if your parents were to divorce.
So that’s that: Kanye and Jay were on one side, and Dame Dash and Cam were on the other. When Jay pushed Damon Dash out of Roc-a-Fella in 2005, the die was cast. The beef continued into the near-present, when Cam and Jim Jones made a sort of ok diss track over Kanye’s “Runaway”, with a few good shots:
And Kanye, you a sucker ni//a
Dis Dame, so my attitude is “fuck a ni//a”
Sucking Jigga, how you gonna live with that?
Took your beat. Now come get it back
Fuck what mama say, whip color is marmalade
Modern-day Wilt Chamberlain, hoes andale
Anyway, it seems like Kanye and Cam’ron are back together again, since they re-united on one of the many versions of the many songs Kanye spewed forth last year under the G.O.O.D. Fridays aegis, “Christmas In Harlem”. This is the sort of shit that’s endlessly amusing about rap: no one’s shy about airing their grievances, and they do so by just writing direct invective. At least, that’s usually the case with Kanye, who’s more or less pretty lucky with all his beefs.
Oh yeah, Consequence is Q-Tip’s cousin, flopped on Kanye’s label, and is kind of mad at him nowadays. Whatever.
“Gone” is the capper to Late Registration (though there are quite a few bonus/hidden tracks), and it’s probably my favorite last song on a Kanye album. Let’s see… I love “Last Call”, but it’s not like a good song-song. “Big Brother” is actually a cool song, and it actually relates quite a bit to all the above, but I’d still pick “Gone”. The other last songs are slightly more conceptual (“Pinocchio Story” and “Who Will Survive In America”). Yeah, I’ll take “Gone”.
It has sweet Otis Redding sample, and strings arranged by Jon Brion. “Gone” is sort of a transitional song, the end of Chipmunk Soul and the beginning of some weirder, over-the-top shit. It’s a six minute song with dudes trading sort of aimless verses over an ambitious production: sound familiar? It’s a great last song, and a strong argument for getting rid of bonus tracks altogether. For instance, I like “See Me Now” as much as the next, but it’s always weird to hear after the finality of the aforementioned “Who Will Survive”. I like how “Gone” simultaneously buzzes and languishes. The mysterious bridge at 3:30 makes you wonder, ‘Is it over?’, but then it keeps going. I suppose “We Major” is also a fairly languid song, but its ebullience gives it a stronger sense of purpose. “Gone” plays with the duller end of your expectations, like the feeling of feeling like you’re about to fall asleep.