In an interview with Variety, Def Jam CEO Bartels talks about his loose working relationship with Kanye.
I don’t know if [word that Kanye is recording in Utah] that’s real or not, I read the same things you do. When we talk we don’t really get down to the granular of where he’s going and how he’s flying there, we keep it much more on a broader level. Kanye is working, that’s been widely reported. He’s always very focused, and our relationship with him is that we always have great respect for him and when he’s ready to do something or talk about something, we’re there for him, we totally support his vision and his focus, and that’s where we leave it. I check in with him from time to time just to see how he’s doing. What’s great about our relationship is that I always know when it’s go time—because he wakes me up. [Laughter]. You never know [if new music will arrive this year]. He’s always working, so maybe so. It’s never something we’re pushing—it’s always led by the creative side.