Album: The Life of Pablo (2016)
Charted: 71


  • This was earmarked to be the title track of Kanye West's seventh album at one point, but it was scrapped when the rapper revealed The Life Of Pablo album title. After the Yeezy Season 3 presentation/album listening event, the record's release was delayed because Chance The Rapper insisted that "Waves" should be on the album. The pair then worked in the studio late into the night to save the track from hard-drive purgatory. Chance The Rapper tweeted: "I fought everyone to keep Waves on the album. I spent all night finishing it. The world is better because of it."
  • Chris Brown croons the hook in which he compares his love for a girl with water waves. The waves never die but instead disperse back into the body of water and Breezy states that may come and go, but his feelings for her, like the waves, will always remain.
  • The "Turn it up!" ad lib, which is repeated several times throughout the song, is sampled from 1980's hip hop collective Fantastic Freaks' cut "Fantastic Freaks at the Dixie."
  • The song also features vocals from Kid Cudi. West sent the Cleveland, Ohio artist an early version back in December 2015, which is different to the one that can be heard on Life of Pablo. Cudi recalled to Billboard magazine: "I remember one night we were all just sitting there and I was hoarse from a show the night before where I lost my voice. I was in New York listening to the latest edit. Chris Brown was already on it and we were thinking about how we could make it better. Chris really has this amazing voice. But there were all these ad-libs around it. So I cleared out all the extra and let's just hear him. That's ultimately what you hear now. We all bounced ideas around and came up with this minimal version. Once we got that, I hummed on it a little.

    Kanye had been working on that album for a while. And as you can see, it's still changing. That song wasn't even going to make it. But I was like, 'We have to do something.' And then Chance the Rapper pushed. And Mike Dean and Plain Pat were key players, too."
  • Fonzworth Bentley, a rapper and producer who co-wrote "Ultralight Beam," also played a role in creating the beginning of this song's first verse. He recalled on the Rich Friend podcast how he sauntered into the studio with a scarf tied around his neck.

    "As I walk in the studio," said Bentley, "the beat to 'Waves' is on and 'Ye is sitting on one side of the studio, Chris is on the other side, so I walk in with my bop and 'Ye is like, 'Walk up in this bitch like.'"

    That studio entrance inspired the lyrics "Step up in this bitch like."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

dUg Pinnick of King's X

dUg Pinnick of King's XSongwriter Interviews

dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet SprocketSongwriter Interviews

The "All I Want" singer went through a long depression, playing some shows when he didn't want to be alive.

P.F. Sloan

P.F. SloanSongwriter Interviews

P.F. was a teenager writing hits and playing on tracks for Jan & Dean when he wrote a #1 hit that got him blackballed.

Terry Jacks ("Seasons in the Sun")

Terry Jacks ("Seasons in the Sun")Songwriter Interviews

Inspired by his dear friend, "Seasons in the Sun" paid for Terry's boat, which led him away from music and into a battle with Canadian paper mills.

Todd Rundgren

Todd RundgrenSongwriter Interviews

Todd Rundgren explains why he avoids "Hello It's Me," and what it was like producing Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album.

When Rock Belonged To Michelob

When Rock Belonged To MichelobSong Writing

Michelob commercials generated hits for Eric Clapton, Genesis and Steve Winwood in the '80s, even as some of these rockers were fighting alcoholism.