Album Reviews

Kanye West-Yeezus [review]


After a very innovative guerrilla marketing strategy, Kanye West releases his 6th studio album titled Yeezus.

He takes a page out of Mos Def’s True Magic this time around. No album art. Not even a radio single.

Well when you’re Kanye West, this isn’t needed, the brand sells itself.

So what does the egotistical, misogynistic, asshole everyone loves to hate do this time around? Take these qualities and multiplies them by 10.

Yeezus is a Being John Malcovich-like doorway into the mind of a maniac…except you don’t know whether this journey is meant to be a comedy or a thriller.

While Yeezus features a star-studded cast just like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy -some old faces and some new-this album is on a totally different wavelength. Kanye takes elements from all of his previous work and strips them down to their bare core. Instead of maximizing sounds, they’re minimalized. Instead of having a song produced by [insert producer], Kanye used the term reduced by [insert producer]. This album is meant to be Kanye on a dark stage performing a monologue, with the accompaniment of ambient background music.

While I’m sure this monologue is meant to be really profound, I have absolutely no idea what the hell it means.

The production on this album is …unique. Out of the ten tracks on this album Daft Punk produces four. The rest of the tracks are produced by twenty other producers. Twenty! Yes!  Twenty! And instead of blending to make the (twenty…) beautiful gumbo that MBDTF (20…) was, these twenty producers (bruh, TWENTY!) all throw their ingredients in the pot until it overflows, spills onto the range (TWEEEEENTYYYY!!!) and burns the entire house down. Subtraction by addition, simply put.

(Twenty)

This is apparent from the first track “On Sight”. This track is one of the firsts produced by Daft Punk…and…

ummmm…yea. If the Daft Punk instrumental doesn’t throw you off then the abrupt beat switch is sure to. That’s actually a common theme with all of the production of this album. Instead of smooth, multi-layered instrumentation, it feels rigid and you never know what’s coming next. From the simplified “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves” to the frenetic “I’m in it”, this album often strays sonically. For example, “Bound 2” features a soulful sample which suddenly is overclouded by a beat switch and one of favorite Gap Band members wailing at you. The beats often go from one extreme to the next, with little to no continuity.  “Blood on the Leaves” is by far the most interesting instrumental on the album due to combining Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” and “R U Ready” by TNGHT (never thought I would type those two in the same sentence).

We’ve addressed the background music, so let’s address the monologue itself. Lyrically, Kanye has never been top tier lyrically, but he’s charismatic enough to hold his own on any verse. Well emphasis on charismatic this time around. Yeezus lyrically follows no direction. Most rhymes are a flow of consciousness, and we’ve already spoken on what we think lies in Mr. West’s mind.

For example:

1. “Baby girl tryna get a nut/And her girl tryna give it up/Chopped ’em both down/Don’t judge ’em, Joe Brown”

2. “I keep it 300, like the Romans/300 bitches, where’s the Trojans?”

3. “I am a God/So hurry up with my damn massage/In a French-ass restaurant/Hurry up with my damn croissants”

4. “One cold night in October/Pussy had me floating/Feel like Deepak Chopra”

5. “Uh, black girl sippin’ white wine/Put my fist in her like a civil rights sign”

Ok, I think you get the point. Kanye typically masks his lack of lyrical dexterity with his great songwriter skills. This album just contains multiple dead ends lyrically. The songs evolve, but never end up in one place particularly. The hooks are so poor (“I’m In It” and “Send It Up”) that some songs aren’t even listenable.

Reduction.

Reduction is the proper word to describe this album. While Kanye has been one of the most progressive and forward thinking minds in the industry, this album takes several steps back in quality. With all due respect, I see what was attempted here. This album is true expressionist’s art–stripped down to the core so you could see the beauty of its simplicity. But is all art good art? No, not at all.

For what it’s worth, everything about this album minus the music is genius. Lack of a radio single and album art instantly made this album talk of every blog and social networking site worldwide. Either you hate it or you love it but either way, you’re undeniably drawn to it. This album will win a Grammy for Album of the Year (which was his goal) but unfortunately it came at the expense of a lesser product. Shock value is the story here, not the music itself.

Hopefully the Grammy wakes up Mr. West and he returns to Earth. One can appreciate the level of artistic freedom in the album, but let’s face it, would you want another album like this again?

With that said…

Final Grade: 2-5

This Entire Album Was Played in Fast Forward (see: Get Em’ High)

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