“Yeezus” is Kanye West’s sixth studio album. It’s also his darkest album. Kanye surprised everyone with the release of this album by announcing it one month before it hit stores.
On May 18th, Kanye performed two songs off the yet-to-be-announced “Yeezus” on Saturday Night Live. Speculation surrounded the performance that would Kanye debut new music of his upcoming album. By the night’s end, the announcement was made that a Kanye West album was forthcoming.
The album would come out with minimal publicity, advertising and marketing. There wasn’t even an album/back cover or an image on the CD! Posters with the official album artwork, consisting of a blank cd inside a blank cd case with red tape/marking on the side, were plastered around cities with the headline “please add graffiti,” which I thought was dope.
It seems with “Yeezus,” you either like it or hate it. When it leaked online and the days afterwards, there were mixed reactions towards the album and even today, early July, the mixed feelings are still there, from blatant “it sucks” to “it grows on you.” I consider myself part of the latter. After the first and second listen, I thought it was mediocre but now after several listening sessions, I fuck with it.
Surprisingly, the two tracks with Chief Keef and King Louie, “Hold My Liquor” and Send It Up” respectively, weren’t ruined by the young Chiraqians rappers. They provided the minimal to “Yeezus.” King Louie provided the hook and a 12-bar verse while Chief Keef was on hook duty. “Send It Up” has club-killer written all over it and even Kanye acknowledges it in his verse. The beat is insane. Daft Punk and ‘Ye killed it.
I was let down by “I’m In It” and “On Sight.” For some reason, I’m not a fan of very sexually explicit tracks; therefore, I couldn’t fuck with “I’m In It.” I couldn’t picture myself playing it aloud where grandmothers, mothers and other people could hear and I’m a person who doesn’t give a fuck, but I just can’t get behind it.
“On Sight” was weak, in my opinion. The highlight of the track goes to the addition of the sample in the middle. The sample goes “he’ll give us what we need, it may not be what we want,” and is a direct reflection of what Kanye the artist is. Although, we love Kanye and his music, we are skeptical when he goes in a different direction, musically. When Kanye is in a different musical zone he creates an album that is next-level shit, like “Yeezus” and “808s and Heartbreaks.” We don’t want Kanye to step out of his zone, like the “Watch The Throne” zone, because he was creating music that was dope. If something isn’t broken, why fix it, right?
The controversially titled “I Am A God” couldn’t be more correct. Kanye is a God, a musical God. Kanye is a trendsetter. When Kanye used the auto tune on “808s and Heartbreaks,” rappers followed suit.
Also, it’s worth noting that the end of “Black Skin Head” has Kanye repeatedly screaming the word “God” as it transitions in “I Am A God.” Was it planned? Not sure but knowing Kanye for being a perfectionist-and-shit, it was planned like everything else, some foreshadowing for that ass.
The standout tracks were “Black Skin Head,” “New Slaves” and “Bound 2.” Both “Black Skin Head” and “New Slaves” were premiered on Saturday Night Live and you could feel the darkness of the tracks. The performance was dark, from his clothes to the ambiance, just like the tracks.
“Bound 2” is ill. From the subject matter to the sample to the beat, everything about it is dope. The beat was already soulful, the addition of the sample was perfectly placed but the inclusion of Charlie Wilson, an old collaborator of Kanye’s GOOD Fridays series, was a bonus! Plus, adding production legends and The Diplomats affiliates The Heatmakerz to co-produce the track is fucking dope. I’m not sure what they did to the beat but to me, and I’m guessing by the way, they provided the sample. It sounds like a Heatmakerz record that would’ve gone to Juelz Santana, Jim Jones or Cam’ron.
On the song, Kanye tells the world he’s found the love of his life, Kim Kardashian. He’s simply in love with her. He recognizes that both had previous unsuccessful relationships. Both of which well documented in the media especially Kim’s.
Charlie provides the bridge that speaks to Kim and her failed relationships. It seems like Kim is a very loving girl, she’s been hunting for that perfect relationship but keeps coming up short, hence the “nobody’s” in the bridge.
“Bound 2” is dope. And there is still more to the song than I’ve mentioned but I will stop here. For example, Kanye brings up the fact that he doesn’t remember how they met and that she should forget his previous radical requests to her in order to move on with their future.
“Black Skin Head” has a braggadocios and rebellious Kanye spitting his raps at the world. Once again, Daft Punk and Kanye killed this beat.
Like ‘Ye says at the beginning of his verse, “for my theme song” embracing the dark, IDGAF attitude that comes with the track. For a theme song, it’s very dark compared to the upbeat ones found in superhero comics but it fits Kanye because he is looked upon by society as a menace; therefore, having the alternative to a theme song would fit him perfectly especially if he can ramble and rant about everything.
Kanye touches on subjects that have affected him and his surroundings. From backlash from religious folks upset for his Jesus piece to Caucasian-Americans mad for his interracial relationship to the media crucifying his every move/antics.
Also, he makes a comment on how the national media doesn’t acknowledge the epidemic in Chicago with young black men shooting and killing each other. It’s true, how often do you turn on the local news and see something Chicago-related? Not often, it’s like society is turning a blind eye on it.
In “New Slaves,” Kanye is proclaiming that society has become slaves to corporate America, (err, I would think society is more like sheep, but we get the picture ‘Ye). He says that we are in a new era of racism but really a discrimination for size of wealth. If you are wealthy you receive one type of service, while if you are not doing so good, you receive a different one.
He reiterates the “new slaves” era in the bridge by saying there’s leaders and followers and he would rather be a leader. Kanye is hoping people “follow” him and decide to become their own person and not someone that looks like others, creating an assembly line of a specific type of person.
In the second verse, Kanye rants, telling everyone a non-implied/implied “fuck you.” You will not be able to tell Kanye what to do or control him in anyway. This second verse is an epic “look at all the fucks I give.” Amazing shit from ‘Ye.
The outro where the beat switches and Kanye is using the auto tune is dope, even with the auto tune, Daft Punk, Kanye and Travis Scott produced a dope beat.
Very quickly I have to give “Guilt Trip” some shine. The beat is dope, Kanye, S1 and Mike Dean did it justice. From the drums to the synth that sounds like an old NES video game, it’s sick. Additionally, Kid Cudi kills it with his simple, short interlude. Although it’s emo, it brings out the loneliness one can go through after a break-up. Cudi is amazing at creating and developing these short interludes/hooks especially for Kanye, sad to see him leave.
Overall, I would rate “Yeezus” an 8/10. It is a different album but its dope. It’s not the typical Kanye everyone is used to but it’s still a Kanye that is unafraid to push the boundaries and try different things. For one, he went anti-establishment by not releasing any singles or videos for promotion. The lack of advertising and marketing was something new. The lack of an album cover was brilliant by having the music speak for itself.
“Yeezus” is an album that is anti-everything. It’s the genius of Kanye at his finest, doing whatever-the-fuck-he-wants-to-do. Kanye decided to step outside the box and create something new, something fresh with “Yeezus” and delivering on the gamble. He could’ve continued with sound The Throne was doing but went against it. I applaud him and this album.