Quincy Jones won’t be sending Kanye West a Christmas card. One of the hottest producers of the 20th century has spoken out against the hottest producer of, er, late 2010, dismissing West as “just a rapper”. “We come from two different sides of the planet,” Jones said. “There’s no comparison.”
Jones has arranged, written for and produced artists including Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Donna Summer and Sarah Vaughan. He has won 27 Grammy awards. Oh yes, and he produced a little album called Thriller. As for Kanye West? His Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is the highest-rated album of the year so far. But when Us magazine mentioned to Jones that people were comparing him to West, the 77-year-old launched into a furious rant.
“How, man?” he said. “No way. Did [Kanye] write for a symphony orchestra? Does he write for a jazz orchestra? Come on, man … I’m not putting him down or making a judgment or anything, but we come from two different sides of the planet. I spent 28 years learning my first skill. I don’t rap. It’s not the same thing. A producer has to have some sort of skills that enable him to be a producer. It’s a whole different mindset. No comparison. None.”
West is no arranger but Jones’s criticism does seems a little naive. Kanye has always been a producer first and a rapper second – the sounds he created on Jesus Walks, Gold Digger and Jay-Z’s Takeover are some of the best beats of the decade. He has also produced tracks for Ludacris, a rapper Jones described as one of his “favourites”.
But Jones is the first to admit he doesn’t “think about [Kanye] much”. Instead he has been reflecting on the legacy of Michael Jackson, with whom he worked several times. It’s “sad”, Jones said, that the Jackson estate has decided to release the singer’s unfinished material. “It’s all to make money,” he complained. “[Michael] wouldn’t have wanted it to come out this way … It should have all stayed in the vault.” Look on the bright side, Quincy: at least Kanye West didn’t do a remix.