Behind Kanye’s Mask
Malibu, Calif. — From Shangri-la Studio here you can see the Pacific Ocean just over the fence lapping calmly at Zuma Beach. And this compound is just as Zen, with recording equipment set up in various locations, including an old bus and a spotless white house with all the mirrors removed.
But there is no rest at Shangri-la, at least for Kanye West. For several days in late May and early June, he and a rotating group of intimates, collaborators and hangers-on were holed up in service of finishing “Yeezus” (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam), Mr. West’s sixth solo album, out Tuesday, and one that marks a turn away from his reliable maximalism to something more urgent and visceral.
The original studios were built under the supervision of Bob Dylan and the Band in the 1970s — some of “The Last Waltz” was filmed here — and the property was bought in 2011 by the producer Rick Rubin, the man whose brain Mr. West had come here to pick. Together, they sandpapered off the album’s rough edges, rerecording vocals and sometimes writing entire new verses. Even as the deadline loomed, Mr. West made room for an appearance at the baby shower for his girlfriend, Kim Kardashian, who’s expecting their first child. As the days passed, the songs noticeably morphed, becoming more skeletal and ferocious. via @joncaramanica