So. Here we are. Yeezus. This one takes a little longer to digest than the average rap album. It’s not one of those albums you run through one time and you know exactly how you feel about it. It’s far from that. It took me 3 listens before I could even get over the initial shock of what it is. It’s not an album you listen to first thing in the morning on a lazy Saturday/Sunday. You know how roller coasters have warnings that you shouldn’t ride if you’re pregnant, or have motion sickness, or are prone to being headaches, etc? This album needs to be prefaced by that same warning. Many are calling this album genius and revolutionary. That being said, this is far from Yeezy’s best work in our opinion, and here’s why.
Yeezus is Kanye leaving America, moving to Paris, and TRYING to be anti. He’s admitted it multiple times. People have made him the anti-celebrity, so now his whole way about doing things is “anti.” That was showcased during the promotional run, or lack there of, in the weeks prior to the album. That was shown in Ye’s decision to not have an album cover. That was shown in his decision to not release a single. It was all calculated, much like the sound of this album. Remember back in the day when Kanye used to produce all of his own shit, and deliver ridiculously dope raps at the same time? Well now, Kanye has given up producing his own productions and writing his own songs. Instead, he now brings the new generation of producers (and some older non-rap producers) and rappers to the studio to help craft a new age, new wave sound for him. He relies on their musical taste and their creative ability to direct his new sound. He raps “You see its leaders and its followers, but I’d rather be a dick than a swallower” on “New Slaves”, but yet he’s following the lead of Travis Scott, who helmed half the album, and Rick Rubin who executively produced the album at the last second because Ye wasn’t 100% confident, and Daft Punk, who are the reasons behind the electro-grunge sound of the first 4 songs on the album. On “Black Skinhead,” Malike Yuself, Lupe Fisasco, Daft Punk, Cyhi The Prynce and more are all credited with writing the 3 minute track. Every song on the album has 10 plus credited writers. I’m just saying…
There’s way to much going on on certain songs. “I Am A God” is super pretentious and super busy production-wise, and so left field…not to mention the primal screams on the track, and how they gave me a headache. “Send It Up” is terrible too, those alarms…nuff said. There are some shining moments on this album though. “Black Skinhead” took a while, but it has grown on me tremendously. The drums in that song make it seem like Ye is chasing you down, looking to kill you. It’s THAT intense of a song. One of the best moments on the album, if not the best.
The only two songs that I LOVED off top were “Blood On The Leaves” (and that sickening bass line) and “I’m In It.” “Blood On The Leaves” starts with a classy Nina Simone sample before exploding into an autotuned rap-sung banger, that see Kanye sample C Murder’s “Down For My Niggaz.” It’s 808’s & Heartbreak on steroids. Amazing. “I’m In It” is Kanye venturing into dubstep, and infusing it with reggae. The outcome is seriously sick! This is the type of artistic growth we can appreciate. It’s next level, but it’s still enjoyable. “Can’t Hold My Liquor” is a nice rap ballad, an ode to MBDTF Kanye as well with interpolations from Chicago’s own Chief Keef and vocals from Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. “Bound 2” is great as well, probably one of our, and the fans’, favorites on the album. Go figure, the one that sounds like Old, soulful Ye is a fan favorite. Shout out to Charlie Wilson for his vocals on that one.
Kanye’s lyrical rage, that has been showcased on albums like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and College Dropout, took a back seat to grunge-electro-trap beats and sound effects, helmed by Travis Scott, Daft Punk, Hudson Mohawke, Rick Rubin, and more. The album was more about the music than it was the lyric. It was more about showing that Kanye is so far ahead of the game, than it was showing Kanye’s ahead of the game and can kill the game lyrically at the same time (MBDTF). Who told Kanye he had something to prove? Because that’s what this album felt like. I know people are going to say, Kanye is always changing, why are you surprised? And that’s true. College Dropout was nothing like 808’s, which was nothing like MBDTF which was nothing like Watch The Throne. But all of those albums felt organic in nature. This one doesn’t, to me.
Some of the best moments on the album are the samples. The best part of “New Slaves” was the minute at the end, which saw a Omega sample play and Frank Ocean sing over it. The best part of “On Sight” was the “He’ll Give Us What We Really Need” soul breakdown midway through the song. Same could be said about the Nina Simone “Strange Fruit” and C-Murder samples on “Blood On The Leaves.” They made that song what it is: hot as fuck. And not to mention “Bound 2,” which is the only glimpse we get at Old Kanye. And even there, it seems like it was a calculated move to throw 1 Old Kanye song on the very end of the album, just in case his fans weren’t all the way feeling the 9 new wave songs, they could at least end the album was some familiar territory and in a positive mood.
As you can see, this album has us on the fence, very much so. It’s far from Kanye’s best work, but many people will call it his best, just like they do when Lil Wayne released something new, or when Jay-Z releases something. They say it’s their best yet, because they don’t want to live in the past. But honestly, if you would have asked us before this album, we would have told you that all of Yeezy’s solo albums could be argued as classics. I don’t see this being in that conversation though. And for multiple reasons. If there’ never going to be a single for this album, and if Ye never promotes it, it’s going to be a lost tape once Drake and Jay-Z and Eminem and Lil Wayne and Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj, etc. drop albums later this year. I mean, Jay-Z is dropping an album in 2 weeks. When he made that announcement 2 days ago, everyone’s focus IMMEDIATELY was shifted to him. Part of what made Ye’s last albums so great was that he had classic singles that made you revisit the album over and over: exactly what Drake and Kendrick Lamar’s albums have done. College Dropout had “All Falls Down” and “Jesus Walks.” Graduation had “Stronger” and “Good Life.” This is the same guy that had old ass white women singing “I aint saying she a gold digger but she aint messin wit no broke de broke.” This album won’t have one of those moments, because Ye isn’t allowing it to. So, aside from Ye’s biggest, closest fans that show up at his festival shows, people aren’t going to listen to these songs over and over for years to come, knowing every lyric.
Long story short, had Kanye skipped the super jarring, bold, brash moments, for a more quality sound, electro-trap-hip hop sound (he did it with Daft Punk on “Stronger” so why couldn’t he have done it again, this album would have been perfect for us. I mean, the best songs were the classic sounding “Bound 2” and the jazz autotune trap banger “Blood on The Leaves.” The brash moments were even the best moments, so are they really necessary? Something about those first few songs, and “Send It Up” make us think that this is one of Ye’s worst albums. And when we say worst, we don’t mean bad because all of his albums are near perfection. But this one, for us, is at the bottom of that pack of greatness. Hopefully with the birth of his Kardashian daughter, this “let’s start a riot” phase quickly goes away for a more refined, finished sound next time.
Standouts: “Blood On The Leaves” , “I’m In It” , “Black Skinhead , “Bound 2”
Could’ve Done Without: “On Sight” , “I Am A God” , “Send it Up”