The rapper and producer (and Mumford & Sons fan) 88-Keys, who first came to prominence when working with College Dropout-era Kanye West, has just come out with his first solo track in eight years. It’s called “That’s Life,” and it’s a collaboration with the late Mac Miller. The song is warm and gorgeous, built on an ecstatic soul loop and some truly gorgeous horns, and it features vocals from Sia. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder how much more great unreleased Mac Miller music there is.
Talking to DJ Booth, 88-Keys says that “That’s Life” was recorded in 2015, around the same time Mac Miller was working on his GO:OD AM album. He says that he was trying to make something for Mac that the early Kanye West would’ve liked, and he also says that it came out of a long conversation about relationships:
The song was inspired by a 90-minute conversation he and I had about… From what I recall, he was going through some relationship issues with his then-long-term girlfriend. I felt bad, but I was surprised he was confiding in me. I started to tell him about my relationship because I was married at the time. I was married for 12 years. I was trying to enlighten him on relationships in general, and more specifically, giving him bits and pieces of my own relationship. Trying to relate it to his situation, just letting him know that he’ll come out on the other side. Yada, yada, yada.
That conversation then spread into a conversation about Kanye. The conversation shifted into what it’s like knowing Kanye for so many years and being around for College Dropout. [Mac] was pretty fascinated by little tidbits and stories, behind-the-scenes stuff I was telling him about College Dropout. So he was fanning out. That’s when I realized how much of a Kanye fan he was.
He asked if I had any beats I wanted to pull up, and so I thought, Which beats do I have that would sound like [something] Kanye would have chosen?
“That’s Life” is out now on the streaming services.