Kanye West’s ever-veering trajectory toward ’07/’08 Britney Spears has not only been proven by leaked audio of his backstage rant while performing on SNL last week, an inability to release The Life of Pablo in any truly finished or accessible form and further auditory condemnations of Taylor Swift on “Famous” (the two really need to hate fuck already), but now, a scrapped version of “Highlights” that featured Madonna instead of Young Thug.
The collaboration between the two marks the third instance of musical commingling, the first being on Madonna’s song, “Beat Goes On,” from the 2008 album, Hard Candy, and the second being his producer credit on 2015’s “Illuminati” from the Rebel Heart album. But maybe the third time wasn’t quite a charm for Kanye, even though the low-quality recording indicates that this incarnation of the song possesses far more chutzpah.
Regardless of Kanye’s fuckery of late, Madonna expressed (last year), “I feel like the music business needs him, because everyone’s become so politically correct, so safe. I don’t always agree with the things he says or does–I don’t always like his music, even. But he’s a beautiful mess. I love him.” One wonders if she still feels the same knowing he slighted her by not using her vocals.
Considering the track is intended to be a self-loving exploration of his career highlights, it only makes sense that he would ask Madonna to contribute vocally, as there are few other artists with as many professional milestones as she. But maybe Kanye’s ego, like always, got in the way. After all, getting upstaged isn’t something he’s accustomed to–he prefers to be the upstager. In any event, as the perpetual re-editing of this infernally publicized album goes on, maybe Ye can be persuaded to finally include the better rendition of “Highlights.” Listen to it in its crude form here before it inevitably gets taken down.