It’s hard to argue with Kanye West when he calls his new album Yeezus and it features a track called “I Am A God,” that this album wasn’t going to be something massive and controversial. Luckily he delivers. The latest project shows Yeezy at his darkest and, at times, his most vulnerable. It’s not pretty, it’s not Pop but it sure is something the Hip Hop world can use.
The first three tracks were produced by another major act in music today, Daft Punk, but they all couldn’t sound more different from each other. The opening track, “On Site,” has a futuristic-sounding beat that gives the album a fierce introduction but then it breaks into an odd bridge that almost feels like a Family Guy bit. The second I heard “Black Skinhead,” I thought Marilyn Manson and his “The Beautiful People,” and luckily this one’s just as heavy and catchy. The industrial beat is a minimalist one but it works perfectly with Yeezy’s lines about how a black man with a white woman gets persecuted like King Kong and his chants of “God!.. GOD!” “I Am A God” is another Electronica outfit with Yeezy spitting out lines that showcase his God complex while allowing it to demonstrate just how mundane that may be: “I am a god, So hurry up with my damn massage, In the French-ass restaurant, hurry with my damn croissants.”
“New Slaves” moves away from the Electronica and goes for a more Hip-Hop approach, with minimalist composition that’s bass-heavy. More importantly, this track is a daring and provocative one with its proclamations of what makes someone a new slave. Another soon-to-be classic Yeezy line appears in this track: “You see there’s leaders and there’s followers, But I’d rather be a dick than a swallower.” Kanye connects once more with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Chief Keef for “Hold My Liquor,” a track that’s slow-building with a fittingly-gloomy chorus. This is also the track that most sounds like it’d fit well within Yeezy’s last album and still be a standout track.
“I’m In It” is a heavy track, showing Kanye’s least sensitive side; an ode to sex that leaves little to the imagination. The Nina Simone-sampling “Blood On The Leaves” is another epic track that mixes different music genres for a 6-minute long assault. Sadly, it features way more auto-tune than necessary, which ultimately proves way too distracting and takes away from the general sound(s) of the song. “Guilt Trip” holds a space-y beat that sounds fine, but it feels like it would probably have worked better as a simple interlude rather than a whole song.
“Send It Up” is one of the best tracks on this album. The beat sounds almost club-ready, but it’s heavy and f*cking badass. King L goes off with his line “dropped off first day of school cuz niggas got cocaine to move.” Another excellent track on Yeezus is the closing track, “Bound 2.” The vintage Kanye-sounding track features a soulful beat with Kanye doing some more schooling on the lyrical front. This track also features what just may be the most quoted line from this whole album: “one good girl is worth a thousand bitches.”
While this new direction makes for a bizarre collection of sounds that show off his creativity and his latest state of mind, it doesn’t necessarily come off as the best work to date from the Chicago rapper. For anyone familiar with Jesus (yeah, THAT one), you’d know that he has been portrayed as a man of innovative and controversial ideas that caused revolutions that are still affecting our lives today. A title like Yeezus would imply this album would be some sort of musical equivalent of that, but it appears as this one may just fall short of that. While it’s still a good release, it doesn’t feature any real club bangers nor does it compete with the likes of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which just may be (I.M.O.) the greatest work our fellow Chicagoan has ever released. Sometimes artists release albums like this not for the trend followers or your typical Top 40 DJs, but for fans like yourself that may see the artistic value of music and will judge releases not for their commercial successes, but for their ability to capture your ear and take you somewhere new.
Key Tracks: “Black Skinhead,” “I Am A God,” “New Slaves,” “Hold My Liquor,” “Send It Up,” “Bound 2”
Buy Yeezus here.