Kanye West seems to think his new album is his best yet. Why else would he refuse to revisit the “old Kanye” on every subsequent album? Why else would he dismiss his last album, the universally acclaimed masterpiece that is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as a “backhanded apology”? While most rappers seem satisfied in lauding their previous efforts, Ye doesn’t seem satisfied. He has gone through several phases in his career that he only makes albums that satisfy the mind-state he is currently in before he shifts his mood. So instead of making another avant-garde musical buffet, Kanye opts for the raw, sonically challenging, and ultra-aggressive soundscape of house and EDM.
His frustration with the contemporary musical climate is clear when he proclaims, “Yeezy season approaching, fuck whatever y’all been hearing”. The hard as fuck synths of “On Sight” sound more in-your-face than anything he ever did before. To further piss you off, he proclaims himself a God, who can’t wait any longer for his “damn croissants”. Yes, the egomania is bigger than before and the sound is the most left-field of left field for Kanye West, as cliched as it might sound. But really? How must you describe a song about pregnant ex-girlfriends sitting courtside at the game that samples a Nina Simone rendition of “Strange Fruit” while turning into a trap song every minute or so? Such self-fulfilling creativity is what makes Kanye a provocative and brilliant artist. Because he has the balls to do that kind of sh*t (and because he is the only one who can make such a concept work).
….And yet it is not the classic that the critics are raving it as (*cough*PitchforkRollingStoneXXLAVClubEntertainmentWeeklyAndOtherSitesThatDickRideYeezy*cough*)
For all the weird moments of brilliance, Kanye still has this proclivity to say incredibly inane bars from time to time. Which is really frustrating because this is a complaint that is consistent with every fucking album that he ever made. For every “I put my fist in her like a Civil Rights sign”, there’s the lazy “Asian pussy, all I needed was sweet and sour sauce”. He still elongates words as if he had nothing else to say (“I got her back in, and put my dick in my MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUTH!!!!”). And then, there’s “I wanna fuck you hard on the sink”.
“I wanna fuck you hard on the sink”?
That’s the best you could come up with?
Do you actually say this to your girlfriends?
Yeezus is far from the classic that critics are raving about. But it’s also not the trash that some listeners claim it is. It’s a challenging listen, without a doubt. I got bored midway through my first listen. Upon the second listen, however, I actually appreciated it more. The heavy usage of EDM and Auto tune is likely to turn off many casual hip hop fans. But in alienating many core bases, it’s a bold work that warrants a few open-minded listens and one that also stays true to its host’s creed of reinvention and individuality.
Highlights: “On Site”, “Black Skinhead”, “New Slaves”, “Blood on the Leaves”, “Bound 2”