Average User Score: 7.6Jul 5, 2013From the moment one hits play on Kanye West's sixth studio album, Yeezus, strange radio waves begin to make their way through the listeners'From the moment one hits play on Kanye West's sixth studio album, Yeezus, strange radio waves begin to make their way through the listeners' eardrum and into the cerebellum. The sounds are immediately abrasive before becoming agreeable, immediately deprogramming any preconceived notion that this is a typical rap album. It is here most hearers will be lost. Listeners, however, are in for quite the ride, one that will forever change hip hop as we know it.
I think now is a good time to inform the reader I was of the opinion that 808s and Heartbreaks was "garbage Kanye" and The College Dropout was "the real Kanye", important to note. This was a skeptic's ear to Yeezus.
I imagine executive producer and hip hop pioneer Rick Rubin smiling a wry smile about an album like Yeezus years before it was created. "What if the most respected electronic producers worked with one of the biggest hip hop artists in the industry to create a multi-collaborative, minimalist album?". The idea was probably quickly brushed away by rational thoughts like "Nah. No one has the balls nor vision for that" or "Who the hell would do that?"
Enter Yeezus. Sonically, it is 40+ minutes of caution to the wind. The Chicago ties are well documented, the acid house and industrial genre influence apparent. This has been done before in hip hop, and in fact, it could be argued this is a commercial adaptation of previous Saul Williams-Trent Reznor collaborations. Yeezus separates itself in the nuances, though. The first sample on the album comes at the 1:17 mark and says "He'll give us what we need, may not be what we want". This is a fine tuned monster we're dealing with; an album that assumes a certain intelligence from its audience and does not apologize to those who do not understand
Lyrically, this is quintessential Kanye. The punch lines are abundant and raunchy, and making a welcome return are socially conscious lines about the prison industrial complex, corporate control and modern slavery. And yes, there is such a thing. Like crack, both the lines and drum patterns have been boiled down a highly flammable essence. At its core, its just beats and rhymes. This sole fact keeps it in the hip hop realm, somewhere, years away from being accepted.
The album triumphs most when any confining parameters are shed. Indeed, the very idea of God is shaken within the confines of Yeezus. There is perhaps no better example on the album than "Blood on the Leaves", a song about the woe of an unwilling father which features a sample from Nina Simone's cover of Strange Fruit. On paper is seems clever if not downright odd to sample a song about lynchings on a song about unwelcome borne fruit. It is executed to near perfection, with TNGHT supplied arrangement reaching horn-apexed crescendos as Simone exclaims "black bodies swingin in the summer breeze".
Many were(and are) caught up in the proclamation that Kanye West "is a god". If that is the case, let them forever stay in ignorance of the Nation of the Five Percenters. But I digress. The son of a Black Panther, Mr. West is well versed in his heritage, or rather, the dehumanization of it. Said West of the tittle of this project, "West was my slave name. Yeezus is my god name." Let us also gloss over the beliefs held by the major four religions and speak nothing of destiny in accordance with free will in godmind. This is but an album review. The track, however, again plays with an idea often attributed to Kanye. How egotiscal he must be, unless of course, he is serious. Any Youtube researcher can tell you West is a part of the globalist elite, the Illuminati, and the demonic yelling at the end of the track is only but further proof of devil worship. Indeed he tells us on Black Skinhead "I think I'm possessed, it's an omen". Whether you believe it to be literal or liberal, is your choice.
West finally comprises on the last track, the sample driven Bound 2. To me, it sticks out like a sore thumb and proves to be one of the worst on the album. Worst being a relative term, of course. It feels out of place, and instead of a traditional Kanye chop, its done in a looped style, which makes the track feel a bit busy and un-involved. When considered in the body of work (the body of Yeezus, if you will), its almost a statement track. Just because its what you might want to hear from Kanye doesn't mean its good, and just because Yeezus isn't necessarily what you want to hear from Kanye doesn't mean it isn't great.
This album will change the way hip hop is accepted in the years to come. I firmly hold that Yeezus will have Revolver like influence in the hip hop community and open doors both to new artists and different collaborates alike. Ever the lane maker, Kanye West has once again opened the door for a new era of artist. Yeezus is probably not the best work of this multiple Grammy award winner, but it will be his most influential, and for that, I applaud him.… Expand