Everyone is talking about it. From your local United States Postal Service delivery man to your own mother, “Have you heard this Yeezus nonsense? What is a Yeezus? Is Kanye referring to himself as Jesus? Yeezus Christ!” Well to the men and women of the blue sock brigade and to all the mothers out there, here’s our take on it. WARNING: This review is explicit and not for everyone.
“You’re all a bunch of fucking assholes. You know why? Cause you don’t have the guts to be what you want to be. You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fucking fingers and say that’s the bad guy. So, what that make you? Good? You’re not good, you just know how to hide. How to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth, even when I lie. So say goodnight to the bad guy.” — Scarface
“On Sight,” the first record off the Yeezus LP, is Kanye’s ‘Say goodnight to the bad guy’ monologue to whatever musical preconceived notions your mind came into for his sixth studio album. From the jump, he’s telling you, you’re going to get a ridiculous brand of integral rawness. Fact is most humans cannot handle his type of sincerity, and many will fail to comprehend the album at it’s most elementary level — it absolutely represents the state of music today.
I break down Yeezus in the context of Kanye’s grand scale position in music, how this album’s envelope pushing sound is fantastic breakthrough shit, and the shortcomings of it’s lyrical content.
Kanye West is the co-inhabitant of the throne. With an influence which looms larger than any artist in popular music today, having produced work for the following — Jay-Z, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, 2 Chainz, Britney Spears, etc. — Mr. West has earned carte blanche to create whatever he damn well pleases. Taylor Swift wishes she could get a Kanye beat and this is a point he’s well aware of. People may not be direct fans of him, but whether you know it or not, you’ve long been fan of his music.
Never in his controversial career has Kanye collaborated with more artists, spanning more genres than he has on Yeezus. This approach makes these forty minutes of booming trap music, a return to hardcore 90’s industrial hijinx and the back and forth between acid house a colossal triumph of global portions. Explore the variety of genres influencing Kanye’s beats. “On sight,” “Black Skinhead,” and “I am God” all rock the Daft Punk production stamp, as Kanye consciously picks up where Graduation’s “Stronger” left off. And that merely gets it started. “New Slaves,” goths and synths it out with deep dark bass drops; “Hold My Liquor” recruits Justin Vernon in a 808’s and Heartbreaks reintroduction, showcasing some the albums most emotional depth. “I’m in it” is Dark Side of the Moon for dubsteppers, while “Blood on the leaves” and “Send it Up” bring in Hudson Mohawk and Daft Punk as producers to execute the album’s dirtiest, nastiest original musical arrangements. Kanye’s Tarintinoian production assembly allows for a work of diverse completeness whose innovation is worldly in scale. Assembling the talented pioneers of today’s modern music to make a record only has one result — the new standard. Simply put, nothing sounds like this.
Now while the music is triumphant, there’s a major lack of lyrical value in Yeezus. It’s not going to inspire anyone to grow up to be the president. Sure there are some seriously dope raps on it, like the ones we showcased earlier today, but where’s the evolution from College Dropout? The brilliance of these sounds, aren’t matched up with lyrics of the same realm. Take “I’m in it” for instance. It’s classic Kanye narcissism, bragging about his sexual conquests, “Black girl sipping white wine, put my fist in her like a civil rights sign,” and “Time to take it too far now…I’m a rap-lick priest getting head by the nun.” Way too much doggie. But that’s not where he took it too far. “Blood on the Leave,” which juxtaposes super innovative noise against Nina Simone’s sample of “Strange Fruit,” needs a closer look. Quick education about “Strange Fruit,” it’s a song that was used in protest back in the late 1930’s to bring awareness of blacks getting lynched in the south. And what’s Ye rapping about in 2013? His “second string bitches.” The irony of it all is that this song will end up being a fan favorite. It’s conflicting, but that is the essence of Kanye West. This is exactly why he is loved, exactly why he is hated, it’s exactly why people are talking. Again, none of this is lost on him.
Overall Yeezus does it’s job tremendously. Compelling, unapologetic, and a complete work from inside the dark mind of a musical genius. That’s the reason so many people lined up to put out the project. And in the end it’s future forward success from an artist who’s conscious of the talent he’s been given and is constantly on a mission to tear up conventional wisdom. The world needs a lovable asshole, full of beautiful contradictions and is a real life character who’s not afraid to tell the truth — even when he’s lying. Love the album, but you ain’t “Jordan" yet.
Writer | Rene Ramirez