Wolves (Kanye West song)

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Song by Kanye West
from the album The Life of Pablo
ReleasedJuly 29, 2016
Music video
"Wolves" on YouTube

"Wolves" is a song by American rapper Kanye West, featuring vocals from Sia and Vic Mensa from his seventh studio album The Life of Pablo (2016). It was produced by Cashmere Cat and Sinjin Hawke and was originally planned to be the opening track to his seventh studio album, The Life of Pablo. West debuted the song on February 12, 2015 at a fashion show where he also premiered his new Adidas shoe.[1] The presentation was broadcast live to more than 40 locations around the world.[2][3]

"Wolves" became the second confirmed track from the album[4][5] and originally featured Sia and Vic Mensa. The initial album version introduced a new verse from West and an additional outro from Frank Ocean, omitting Sia and Vic Mensa's contributions. However, in March 2016, the album was updated with a new version of the song that reinstated Sia and Vic Mensa's verses. Frank Ocean's outro has been split into a separate track, titled "Frank's Track", which appears after "Wolves" on the track list. The song was used in the trailer for the 2017 film Unforgettable,[6] as well as Netflix crime drama series Ozark.[7] The song received positive reviews from music critics. Comparisons have been drawn between it and West's 2018 single "Yikes".


"Wolves" was produced by Cashmere Cat and Sinjin Hawke and originally featured vocals by Australian singer and songwriter Sia and Chicago rapper Vic Mensa. The song has been described as "melancholic" and "somber" with a slower beat, a minimal arrangement, and a heavily Auto-Tuned bridge.[2][8] The "lurching" chorus is performed by Vic Mensa and includes the lyrics, "I'm just bad. Bad for you."[2][8] Sia performs a "bluesy" rendition of West's words approximately three minutes and fifteen seconds into the song.[8]

The original album version featured a rap from West and a moody outro from Frank Ocean, which replaced Vic Mensa and Sia's verses.[9] An alternate version, however, was leaked online including Frank Ocean, Vic Mensa, and Sia. Unlike the album version, Frank Ocean's outro is featured at the start of the song, and West's rap is omitted.[10]

In March 2016, over a month after the album's release, West updated the album's Tidal track list with a reworked version of "Wolves", which includes the previously removed vocals from Vic Mensa and Sia. The outro sung by Frank Ocean was split into a separate track called "Frank's Track".[11]

Music video[edit]

The music video for the song was released on July 29, 2016 as part of a Balmain advert campaign.[12] It resonates with the emotional feel of the song as it features West and his wife Kim Kardashian in tears. The video also features Alessandra Ambrosio, Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn, Josephine Skriver, Kylie Jenner, Sia, and Vic Mensa.[13] The video is black-and-white and sees West and his wife wearing the same outfits designed for their appearance at 2015's Met Gala.[14]

Saturday Night Live performance[edit]

West was one of several musical guests for the Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special, which aired on NBC in February 2015. He performed "Jesus Walks" and "Only One", then Sia and Mensa joined him for the live debut of "Wolves".[15] Due to the "claustrophobic, starkly black-and-white" set, all three vocalists crawled and crouched throughout the song due to their limited mobility, and Sia wore a large white bob wig.[16][17]

Critical reception[edit]

"Wolves" received widespread acclaim from music critics. Brittany Spanos of Rolling Stone said the song was reminiscent of West's work on his fourth studio album 808s & Heartbreak (2008).[2] It was described by Jake Boyer of Highsnobiety as being: 'among the most potent pieces of songwriting on Pablo'.[18] The song was branded by Nosheen Iqbal of The Guardian as having 'brutal Yeezus-ish minimalism'.[19] Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic viewed the song as being 'gorgeous and beguiling'.[20] The Independent's Christopher Hooton wrote of the song: 'This is such a beautiful song and the off-kilter drums in the background throw it off balance in a good way.'[21]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Wolves" debuted at number 1 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 upon the release of The Life of Pablo.[22] Within the same week, it debuted at number 39 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[23] The song also charted on the UK Singles Chart upon the album's release, reaching number 88.[24]


In November 2017, a running meme spread across Twitter that the football team Wolves experiencing success was due to West tweeting out back in February 2016 "Ima fix Wolves" in reference to his song of the title.[25] Upon the release of West's 2018 album Ye, comparisons were made from the single "Yikes" to "Wolves", two years after The Life of Pablo's release. "Yikes" was compared to "Wolves" by HotNewHipHop, with the site describing its connection to the song as what: 'feels like a cousin of sorts'.[26] The two tracks were compared by NME, since Jordan Bassett of the site described the single as being where: '[the] delivery [of West] apes the flow of 2016 track "Wolves"'.[27] Ann-Derrick Gaillot of The Outline pointed out: 'the sparse, horror film-esque beats on "Yikes" evoking "Wolves"'.[28]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits reflect the updated March 2016 version; adapted from Tidal.[29]

  • Producers – Kanye West, Sinjin Hawke, Cashmere Cat, Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein
  • Co-producers – Noah Goldstein, Mike Dean
  • Composers and lyricists – Magnus Høiberg, Victor Mensah, Ryan McDermott, Freddy Wexler, Malik Yusef, Lincoln Minutt, Mike Dean, Alan Brinsmead, Noah Goldstein, Elon Rutberg, Lincoln "Sugar" Minst, Kanye West, Sia Furler, Christopher Breaux
  • Additional procurers – Plain Pat, Boi 1da
  • Recording engineer – Noah Goldstein, Matt Larson, Mike Dean
  • Assistant recording engineer – Jordan Heskett
  • Mixer – Manny Marroquin


Chart (2016) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[30] 88
UK R&B (Official Charts Company)[31] 25
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[32] 1
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[33] 39
US On-Demand Songs (Billboard)[34] 31


  1. ^ Gordon, Jeremy; Phillips, Amy (February 12, 2015). "Kanye West Debuts "Wolves" Featuring Sia and Vic Mensa at Adidas Yeezy Boost Fashion Show". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Spanos, Brittany (February 12, 2015). "Kanye West Enlists Sia, Vic Mensa for Melancholic New Song 'Wolves'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  3. ^ Seemayer, Zach. "Kanye West Debuts New Song 'Wolves' During His Fashion Show". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  4. ^ Zach Frydenlund. "Kanye West's New Album Features a Song With Vic Mensa and Sia". Complex.
  5. ^ "Kanye West premieres 'Wolves' featuring Sia and Vic Mensa". FACT Magazine: Music News, New Music.
  6. ^ "2017 Movies: Unforgettable (Trailer Song) – Katherine Heigl". trailer-song.net. 14 December 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  7. ^ Greene, Steve (25 May 2017). "'Ozark' Trailer: Jason Bateman Breaks Bad in Netflix's Cartel Crime Drama, With Some Help From Kanye West". indiewire.com. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Lipshutz, Jason (February 12, 2015). "Kanye West Unveils New Song, 'Wolves,' Featuring Vic Mensa & Sia: Listen". Billboard. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  9. ^ "Frank Ocean - Wolves / Frank's Track (Highself Remix)". soundcloud.com. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Alternate version of Kanye West's "Wolves" leaks — listen — Consequence of Sound". Consequence of Sound.
  11. ^ Brandle, Lars (March 16, 2016). "Kanye West Shares Reworked Version of 'Wolves' on Tidal". Billboard. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
  12. ^ "Kanye West Wolves Video is Basically a Balmain Ad Campaign — THE DAPIFER". THE DAPIFER. 2016-08-03. Retrieved 2017-06-10.
  13. ^ "Kanye West's Freaky New "Wolves" Music Vid Features Kylie Jenner & This Taylor Swift Squad Member". seventeen.com. August 1, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2018.
  14. ^ "Kanye West Wolves video: Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and more". Entertainment Weekly. July 29, 2016. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  15. ^ Young, Alex. "Kanye West debuts "Wolves" during powerful Saturday Night Live performance — watch". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  16. ^ Newman, Jason (February 16, 2015). "See Kanye West's Innovative, Claustrophobic 'SNL' 40 Performance". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  17. ^ Mokoena, Tshepo (February 16, 2015). "Wigs, Wolves and Kanye West: rapper debuts new track during Saturday Night Lyrics". Lyricsleaf. Retrieved February 18, 2015.
  18. ^ Boyer, Jake (February 15, 2018). "Kanye West's 'The Life of Pablo': Every Song Ranked Worst to Best". Highsnobiety. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  19. ^ Iqbal, Nosheen (December 13, 2016). "Best albums of 2016: No 4 The Life of Pablo by Kanye West | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  20. ^ Kornhaber, Spencer (February 18, 2016). "Review: Is Kanye West's 'Life of Pablo' Album a Freak-Out About Monogamy?". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  21. ^ Hooton, Christopher (March 2, 2016). "The Life of Pablo: Ranking the tracks on Kanye West's latest album now the dust has settled". The Independent. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  22. ^ "Bubbling Under Hot 100 : Apr 23, 2016". Billboard Chart Archive. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  23. ^ "Top Hip-Hop Songs / R&B Songs Chart". Billboard. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  24. ^ "Wolves | Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  25. ^ Robinson, James (November 17, 2017). "Is Kanye West the reason behind Wolves being top of the Championship?". Dream Team. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  26. ^ Findlay, Mitch (June 1, 2018). "Kanye West Scares Himself On #MeToo Referencing "Yikes"". HotNewHipHop. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  27. ^ Bassett, Jordan (June 1, 2018). "Praise Yeezus for the seven-track album in an age of bloated, overlong releases". NME. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  28. ^ Gaillot, Ann-Derrick (June 1, 2018). "Kanye West is finally out of ideas". The Outline. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  29. ^ "TIDAL". Listen.tidal.com. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
  30. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  31. ^ "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  32. ^ "Kanye West Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  33. ^ "Kanye West Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  34. ^ "Kanye West Chart History (On-Demand Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved February 13, 2019.

External links[edit]