Kanye West rang in 2015 with a new song featuring an unlikely collaborator. "Only One," a heartfelt tribute to Kanye’s late mother Donda West, features ex-Beatle Paul McCartney on keyboard and background vocals.
The ballad is sung from the perspective of Kanye's mother, who passed away in 2007 due to surgery complications. The song’s first line "Hello ‘Mari, how ya doin'" refers to Kanye’s middle name Omari, and the song's touching lyrics describe the rapper's mother watching over him and proudly observing his career and new family.
"Remember how I'd say one day/You'll be the man you always knew you would be," West sings. "And if you knew how proud I was/You'd never shed a tear/Have a fear/No you wouldn't do that."
The rapper has said that the song’s chorus, "Hello, my only one," came to him as he was sitting in the recording studio holding daughter North West. The song concludes with West singing "Tell Nori about me."
"My mom was singing to me, and through me to my daughter," West said of "Only One" in a PR statement.
Kanye’s wife Kim Kardashian took to Twitter to gush about the track, calling it her "favorite Kanye song."
People always ask me what my favorite Kanye song is and it's Only One. Kanye feels like his mom sang thru him to our daughter.— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) January 1, 2015
I cry every time I hear this song— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) January 1, 2015
The song might also be the first sign of a larger project between West and McCartney, as a rep for the rapper describes "Only One" as the first "publicly available recording from what has become a prolific musical collaboration between these two legendary artists."
"Only One" is currently streaming on West's website and available for download on iTunes.
19-year-old Kanye might not have known he would be collaborating with Sir Paul, but he sure had the skills! Check out his 1996 freestyle at a record store opening in the flashback clip below.