“Mama’s Boyfriend” has long been a grail for Kanye West stans, dating back to when he first debuted the song last year, performing it acapella while standing on a table in the Facebook offices. Leading up to the release of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, rumors were abound as to how exactly it would be released; perhaps as a bonus track, perhaps as part of his G.O.O.D. Fridays freebee series; perhaps with scratches or production from Gang Starr legend DJ Premier. None of those came to be, until Monday, when the track dropped unexpectedly on the blog circuit.
In the Facebook clip, he half exaggerates that the song took him 33 years to write, so it makes sense that it feels less like a MBDTF outtake than something from the College Dropout/Late Registration era — bad puns (“I sip the Dom Tyler Perry-gnon”) and conflicted soul bearing, rhymed sloppily through chipmunked soul samples and horns bigger than his ego. First rapping from the eyes of a Young ’Ye, he laments the arrival of his mother’s love interest and then relives the interaction in the present tense, this time from the perspective of the loathed boyfriend. Even when (or because) he falls off beat, it’s endearing in a way that West as an artist and human hasn’t been in a long time; gone are the fame demons, the loathsome self-absorption, the grandiose sonic aspirations.
Paradoxically, though, those are the flaws what we’ve come to love. For an artist who’s made being major his craft, “Mama’s Boyfriend” is too small a footnote. This is undoubtedly why it was left off of MBDTF — he can’t go home again. And there’s something very early-West about that sad truth. [Listen via Pitchfork / Download via G.O.O.D.]