Kanye West teased a new album last March and then again in May. Rumors suggested the album, SWISH, would be released in 2015. It wasn't.
West still managed to end his second straight album-less year with a bang, releasing a single, "Facts," on New Year's Eve.
While "Facts" addresses some traditional West themes such as his prestige and celebrity family, the main theme of the song is a diss of Nike. West released shoes in collaboration with Nike starting in 2009, but in December 2013, he announced a deal with Adidas. In 2015, West released various styles of the Yeezy Boosts, which all quickly sold out.
But there are many facts not covered in "Facts" that give more of the backstory of the track. There are reasons Kanye cares about the global shoe war. Here they are:
Kanye West's deal with Adidas is worth $10 million
Yeah, Kanye doesn't weave the exact numbers of his Adidas paycheck into the song. Kanye gets $10 million to wear Adidas on his sleeve (more specifically, his feet). His diss of Nike is not objectively driven. Adidas did not publicly endorse the song and West is not saying Adidas told him to write the track, but one would imagine Adidas is fine with the free publicity.
West's motive here is more personal than monetary. When working with Nike, the Greek God of global sports apparel, West was unhappy with his business agreement. Nike reportedly refused to pay West royalties for his Yeezy brand. Kanye took this as disrespectful and moved on to Adidas.
"Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman" is a recycled line
When Kanye was still with Nike in July 2012, he dropped, "New God Flow," saying, "Hold up, I ain't trying to stunt, man, but the Yeezys jumped over the Jumpman."
This was Kanye's way of saying his Yeezys (he had recently released the Nike Air Yeezy 2) were now more popular than Air Jordans.
Keep in mind, whatever you want to call the brand -- Jumpman, Air Jordan or Jordan Brand– -- the entity is a Nike subsidiary. At the time, Kanye was calling out another branch of the brand he was in partnership with.
The refurbished line in"Facts" is
Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman.
Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman (Yo!).
This time, West is straight calling out Nike and saying his separate brand has surpassed Air Jordans.
Drake and Don C save Nike from full-on Kanye onslaught
After Kim Kardashian moved from Kris Humphries to Kanye, West rapped, "And I'll admit, I had fell in love with Kim, around the same time she had fell in love with him, well that's cool, baby girl, do ya thang, lucky I ain't have Jay drop him from the team."
This was from Kanye's "Cold," and those words are too icy even for a Kris Humphries chirp. At the time, Jay-Z still had a stake in the Brooklyn Nets.
Anyway, the point is Kanye does not hold back when dissing. But not even Kanye can go for Nike's jugular because he has too many friends on the other side. In "Facts," West says:
If Nike ain't have Drizzy, man they wouldn't have nothin', woo!
If Nike ain't have Don C, man they wouldn't have nothin', ooh!
Drizzy is Drake and Don C is Kanye's long-time manager/bodyguard/friend Don Crowley. Drake's OVO brand has a partnership with the Jordan Brand (he just released a song entitled "Jumpman" on his recent mixtape with Future) and Don C is a collaborator with Nike. Even when dissing Nike, Kanye gives his friends free advertising.
The Yeezy Boosts were really successful, but Nike probably does not care
Let's not take away from the Yeezy Boost's incredible numbers. Both the Adidas 750 Yeezy Boost and Adidas 350 Yeezy Boost sold out in 12 minutes or less. A pair of 750s reached an asking price of $20,000 on eBay.
Tell adidas that we need a million in production.
I done told y’all all I needed was the infrastructure
I ain't drop an album
and the shoes went platinum.
So yes, Yeezys sell at savage rates that no current Air Jordan sneaker competes with.
Should Nike regret letting West walk? The brand probably does not care. Like Grantland to ESPN, Kanye West was a positive influence on the Nike brand, but he did not push the dial to a position that made him necessary. Nike reports $7.7 billion in revenue last quarter. For Nike to release the shoes and pay West royalties, the line would bring in a fraction of its necessary income.
West may feel disrespected by Nike, but from a business standpoint, the decision to part ways made sense.
"Facts" is an Adidas ad
Welcome to the era of branded content. Although Kanye's contract might not explicit state that he has to praise Adidas in his songs, and there is no way to know if the company initiated the idea for this track, it is free advertising from the brand's most popular endorser.
James Harden, Swaggy P runnin' up the budget
Both Harden and Nick Young left Nike for Adidas in 2015. Harden has a 13-year, $200 million contract (and perhaps not coincidentally is dating Khloe Kardashian, West's sister-in-law). Young has already worn Yeezys on an NBA court.
Asked Sunday how he will prepare for the Lakers' upcoming game against the Warriors, Young said he will listen to "Facts."
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) January 4, 2016
Remember, Adidas is fighting an uphill battle against the almighty Nike. The brand is trying to find every untapped avenue it can to boost its market share. (In 2015, Adidas fell to No. 3 behind Nike and Under Armour in North American sales.) During the past decade, Adidas has pursued a lifestyle line, known as Adidas Originals. Such spokespersons have included artists Big Sean, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, B.o.B and 2NE1.
"Facts" aligns with Adidas' tone. The company wants to combine sports and lifestyle when it comes to shoes. Kanye is conscious of this.
Adidas is not a threat to Nike athletes
Harden and Young walked, but Nike is still loaded, and it launched a Christmas Day ad featuring LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Paul George and Elena Delle Donne.
Nike treat employees just like slaves,
gave LeBron a billi' not to run away.
James' new lifetime Nike deal is reportedly worth between $500 million and $1 billion. James responded to West on Monday.
"We don't look upon nobody on our side, we just try to put the best athletes that we can out on the floor every night," he said.
"And Phil Knight's greatest saying is 'always listen to the heart of the athlete listen to the words of the athlete. And that's all it's about, nothing else."
LeBron also said he hasn’t really listened to Kanye’s Facts, but said he’s always on Nike’s side no matter the situation.
— Chris O'Leary (@olearychris) January 4, 2016
In the Jordan household, MJ's son Marcus gave a comedic response to "Facts" on Twitter:
"Yeezy just jumped over @Jumpman23 ??" LOL I needed a good laugh to start my #2016
— Marcus Jordan (@HEIRMJ) January 2, 2016
Meanwhile . . . pic.twitter.com/bczUglAvnW
— Marcus Jordan (@HEIRMJ) January 2, 2016
"Facts" is good publicity for Adidas, but it is not necessarily bad publicity for Nike.
Kanye gets unintended backlash
On the field I'm over reckless, on my Odell Beckham.
At first glance, this is pretty cool. Kanye drops in a line about Odell Beckham Jr.'s Week 15 tantrum, which happened only a week and a half before the song's release.
However, Beckham is a Nike athlete. Beckham paid tribute to West for the shoutout -- by posting a pair of shoes from Kanye's Louis Vuitton collaboration, the Don's.
Non-Adidas verses are just Kanye causing controversy
West refers to the expensive fur coat he recently purchased daughter North:
10 thousand dollar fur for Nori, I just copped it
West also says:
Do anybody feel bad for Bill Cosby?
Did he forget the names just like Steve Harvey?
Bottom line: Kanye is Adidas' general
Kanye got what he wanted. He went from being a "slave" to Nike to owning Adidas. The initial Yeezy Boost season was so successful that West now has leverage on Adidas. Yes, Adidas is paying Kanye $10 million (plus royalties?), but money is paper to Kanye. He appreciates Adidas more for giving him an opportunity to stick it to Nike than anything else.
Adidas is salivating over its partnership with Kanye not just from a Yeezys sales perspective, but for the marketing impact. Adidas did not even have to do anything on New Year's Eve, and West serenaded Adidas to his global following.
In short, the facts you need to know:
Kanye West is a big-time Adidas sponsor, who has personal beef with Nike, which has too much industry power to be affected by a Kanye rap.
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.