Two years ago, the world was surprised to learn that Dirty Projectors mastermind Dave Longstreth had co-written the Kanye West/Paul McCartney/Rihanna hit “FourFiveSeconds.” But that improbable collaboration wasn’t the only time Longstreth and West worked together. With the new self-titled Dirty Projectors album coming out next week, The New York Times ran a long profile on Longstreth this morning. And that profile includes a magical anecdote about the time Longstreth spent in a Mexican mansion that West rented when he was working on The Life Of Pablo. Longstreth was one of the guests, and so was Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig. (So were Big Sean and Rhymefest, and Longstreth also spent time at West’s Los Angeles mansion with the Weeknd and French Montana. The whole thing is just fun to think about.) While they were down there, Longstreth and Koenig co-wrote a Kanye West song that never came out. Here’s the relevant passage:
In 2015 West asked Longstreth over to his LA home to toss around ideas. West routinely assembles motley creative brain trusts, and the brusque, Moroccan-born, Bronx rapper French Montana and the slick Canadian singer the Weeknd were there, too. This invitation led to another, to the Mexican seaside village of Punta Mita, where West rented a mansion belonging to the Girls Gone Wild impresario Joe Francis and transformed it into a songwriting headquarters for his album The Life of Pablo. Longstreth, a coffee geek who observes a precise pour-over ritual, brought along his own ceramic dripper and, as he self-mockingly put it, “Third Wave roasted beans,” which apparently entertained West’s wife, Kim Kardashian. “She asked me, ‘Are you making, like, a caramel macchiato?’?” Longstreth recalled.
Other guests included Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend and the rappers Rhymefest and Big Sean. “Kanye has this discursive way of working, getting input from a range of people, that I thought was really cool,” Longstreth said. He described a moment when West played a tape he’d made of Paul McCartney playing a Wurlitzer while West improvised a vocal, feeling his way through the music by making nonsense sounds. Amid this gibberish, “something he sang sounded sort of like ‘Memories can get you into trouble,’?” Longstreth recalled. Struck by this phrase, he and Koenig went off to write a song exploring its potential meanings. “Like, maybe you’re with your girlfriend but thinking of your ex,” Longstreth explained. After Mexico, Longstreth kept in touch with Elon Rutberg, one of West’s main creative advisers, and solicited his feedback about Dirty Projectors. Of the “Memories” song, Longstreth added, “Kanye didn’t wind up using it, but it was good — maybe something will come of it down the line.”