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Fonzworth Bentley Talks Origins of Kanye West's "Ultralight Beam"

“Ye was like, ‘Let’s all catch a freestyle.’ In his freestyle he said, ‘This is an ultralight beam.’ He sings that and was singing the...

Kanye West has been relatively vocal about the process behind The Life of Pablo, but there are still many untold stories out there. Recently, Fonzworth Bentley, who has a co-production credit on the album’s first track, “Ultralight Beam,” linked up with The FADER to talk about a the conception of the song.

On the song’s origin:
“Justin [Bieber] hops on the phone and is like, ‘Tell Yeezy whatever he needs I got it.’ So Justin comes through and we vibed on that. And then Ye went right in. Ye was like, ‘Let’s all catch a freestyle.’ In his freestyle he said, ‘This is an ultralight beam.’ He sings that and was singing the melody. Then Chance catches the vibe. A lot of what ended up in his verse was from this freestyle—as far as his patterns and some of the words.”

On Kelly Price’s recording:
“I sit there and play [what she sent me] in the kitchen and my wife’s there. And bro, what you hear on the record is exactly what she sent. Both of us burst into tears because it was so right on. It was perfect […] I play it for [Kanye] and he closes his eyes and he’s like: ‘Kelly. Dope. Call her in. Call Kirk in. Let’s go.’”

On Kirk Franklin and the choir:
“Kirk’s in there with headphones and he said, ‘What are you hearing?’ I told him that we wanted to amplify what was already there. He began to teach the choir the parts and he taught it in seven minutes, bro. And I’m talking one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, he taught all the parts to every choir singer in seven minutes. It was like watching a master at work.”

On Kanye’s persistence:
“That is one of Kanye’s greatest gifts: his ability to hear and see and to execute editing. He’s never married to anything. The best idea wins. You’ve got to understand, everybody wasn’t completely on board with the choir and all this stuff. Some people thought it might be too literal, but again, like I said, the best idea wins.”

Head to The FADER for the full feature.

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