And back again, unexpectedly.
The story of this hit single makes “The Fox” seem positively old-school.
While the viral video origins of “The Fox,” much like “Harlem Shake” and “Gangnam Style” before it, were pretty straightforward and at least bore some linearity between the release of the single and its subsequent viral-ity, “Gone” is an eight-year-old track from Kanye’s second album and was never intended to be a single, much less a top 20 pop hit.
“Gone” was used in a viral video as a kiss-off to an employer from a disgruntled employee who apparently never heard “Take This Job and Shove It.” Once the video went viral, the song became a hit. No agency on Kanye’s part whatsoever. Completely random.
The song itself is widely regarded as one of the unheralded highlights of Late Registration, one of Kanye’s best-received projects. The track bears a strong structural similarity to the much-better-known “Gold Digger,” complete with a looped old-school soul sound byte (an authentic one from Otis Redding, not the fake one voiced by Jamie Foxx). Given Kanye’s strong use of motifs within his projects, this isn’t surprising. The verses are highly narrative and sing-songy, with strings providing punctuation in a clever and engaging call-and-response structure (again, like “Gold Digger”).
It’s a standout track, but it feels hopelessly retro. Kanye has hashed through about six different musical styles since 2005, so it comes across as clean, but not fresh.