The sad, troubled history of Kanye West’s MacBook Air – The Verge

Early this morning, Kanye West released a new song with Kendrick Lamar called “No More Parties in L.A.” It’s a smooth, bass-heavy funk track that recalls a College Dropout-era Kanye. But toward the end of the track, Kanye makes an unusual reference: “And as far as real friends, tell my cousins I love ‘em / Even the one that stole the laptop, you dirty motherfucker.”

A casual listener might discard this nod to a devious cousin as a strange non sequitur or a throwaway line that Kanye just liked the sound of, because it seems like it couldn’t possibly be real: One of Kanye’s cousins stole his laptop? And now he’s rapping about it? But this isn’t the first time we’ve heard tell of Kanye’s laptop. In fact, it hasn’t even been a week since Kanye last rapped about it on “Real Friends”: “I had a cousin that stole my laptop that I was fuckin’ bitches on / Paid that nigga 250 thousand just to get it from him.”

A gauntlet thrown and a question raised: is Swish going to be an album about Kanye’s laptop? Let’s say the answer is a strong “maybe.” In that case, knowing the full tale of said laptop is crucial to parsing the new era of Kanye. So settle in folks, for I’m about to tell you the Sad, Troubled History of Kanye West’s Laptop.

The story begins in 2008

Our story begins in earnest during the summer of 2008: a strange, confusing time when George W. Bush was the United States’ president and Kanye was still a few months shy of releasing 808s and Heartbreak. On the morning of June 25th, Kanye posted what might conceivably be considered a rant on his website about technical troubles with his set at Bonnaroo, in which he called the festival’s organizers “squid brains.” I’m typing so fucking hard I might break my fucking Mac book Air!!!!!!!!, he wrote. Presumably the MacBook Air did not die then, as Kanye’s post goes on for several hundred more words, but one can assume it was a rough night for the little computer.

Unfortunately, the struggles of Air West only get worse from there. In March of last year, G.O.O.D. Music artist Malik Yusef tweeted that Kanye’s laptop had been stolen in Paris, which resulted in the leak of an unfinished track called “Awesome.” Everything we thought we knew became a question, and there were no answers. Someone started a Twitter account, @kanyelaptop, to document the goings on of the case. Then, in a suspicious and sudden twist, Def Jam claimed the laptop had never been out of Kanye’s possession, and the song leak was merely coincidental.

Still, it doesn’t take an internet sleuth to look at Kanye’s recent lyrics and figure out that something is missing from this story. Was the incident in Paris related to Kanye’s cousin, or were the two distinct events? Given the history of Air West, it seems either hypothetical is possible. Perhaps (and probably likely) this is not even the same MacBook Air that was typed to death in 2008, but only a fool would say they are not of the same lineage.

Dare I say… Illuminati?

While it seems Air West has now safely found its way home, it’s naive to assume its troubles are over. Last week’s release of “Real Friends” was plagued by SoundCloud problems, audio issues, illegal uploads, copyright takedowns, and tweets without links. Everything eventually worked out, and things are quiet for now. But if the history of Air West has taught us anything, it’s that being Kanye’s laptop is as thrilling as being Kanye.


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