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Kanye West’s “Waves” is fascinating when played backward

Kanye West. (Photo: Getty Images)

Even though Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo didn’t crack a single one of Billboard’s charts, due to technicalities involving Tidal not sharing its streaming numbers, the record has still had resounding cultural impact. It’s less than a month old and has already been examined inside out, forward and backward. The backward exploration was recently taken a step further, when a backward version of “Waves” was shared. That concept might seem innocuous enough, but it turns out that “Waves” played backward actually sounds amazing.

While the original track has a relatively simple structure that causes it to remain identifiable in this altered form, “Waves” gains a more positive and ethereal energy when played from end to beginning. The synths sound happier, Chris Brown’s garbled vocals sound more otherworldly, and this version of the track could easily score a dramatic movie scene.


It seems unlikely that a change that can be made with a few clicks in Audacity or any freeware audio editor should have that drastic an impact, let alone one that adds a new layer to the source material instead of completely demolishing it. But listen to the track below and hear for yourself. Just don’t bother looking for any “Paul is dead” messages, because there are none.

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