Kanye West: Yeezus

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Posted June 26, 2013 by in Hip-hop
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Rating

Overall
 
 
 
 
 

3.5/ 5

Details

Genre:
 
Producer: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
 
Label:
 
 
 
 
Genre: Hip-hop
 
Producer: Kanye West, 88-Keys, Ackee Juice Rockers, Arca, Benji B, Carlos Broady, Brodinski, Ben Bronfman, Evian Christ, Eric Danchild, Daft Punk, Mike Dean, Dom Solo, Jack Donoghue, Gesaffelstein, Noah Goldstein, Lunice Lupe Fiasco Hudson Mohawke No ID, Che Pope, Rick Rubin, S1, Travis Scott, Sham Joseph
 
Label: Def Jam
 
Format: Digital download, compact disc
 
Time: 40:01
 
Release Date: 18 June 2013
 
Spin This: "Black Skinhead," "Blood on the Leaves," "Bound 2"
 

Pros:

Pushing past the envelope once more with more genre layers and bad-ass rhymes
 

Cons:

Lacks radio-ready singles; loud, narcissistic and at times obnoxious
 

Inside the schizophrenic bi-polar narcissistic universe of Yeezus, West continues to flex his godlike muscles

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Inside the schizophrenic bi-polar narcissistic universe of Yeezus, West continues to flex his godlike muscles

When you confront a piece of work of Kanye West, you have to see it as an artform and not to take it serious. Even he doesn’t take everything about himself as serious, even all the way down to the Grammy snubs. But when he puts his beats and rhymes on wax, he comes off as convincing, arrogant, boastful, prideful and fully determined. All that power that he welds gives him the clearance to walk in the field of danger, and to walk away as a hero – almost like a Nik Wallenda walking the highwire over the Grand Canyon. Unlike Wallenda, West isn’t praying to God so much – at least, that’s what we gather on his ballsy straight-out-the-gate record, Yeezus. Rather than resorting back to “Jesus Walks,” West seems quite comfortable with the construction of a Towel of Babel sound on his own music. Sure his lyrical feistiness makes him one of the world’s greatest emcees in the hip-hop game, but the sound he owns on this record definitely pushes the envelope, soaring light-years past the familiar black music template. He picks up where he left off on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and zooms straight into orbit. Making matters better (or worse, depending on who you ask), West constructs yet another “dark twisted fantasy” around his own beliefs and actions, as if he’s a 21st century prophet. He’s happy being a god as he scribes his name (“Ye”) into “Jesus.” But don’t be totally shocked by these revelations: West isn’t a stranger to being sacrilegious.

The Daft Punk-layered “On Sight,” acting as the album’s introduction, opens up with loud noise and old-school electro beeps, prepping the ground for West to showcase the enormity of his cock and ego: “Baby girl tryna get a nut/And her girl tryna give it up/Chopped ‘em both down/Don’t judge ‘em, Joe Brown.” “Black Skinheads” merges tribal sounds with Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll (The Hey Song)” to show off his crossover rock persona, even if he’s addressing racism in the context of his baby mama: “Enter the kingdom, but watch who you bring home/They see a black man with a white woman/At the top they gone come to kill King Kong.” It’s one of the finer tracks on Yeezus, even if modern radio is too conservative to even spin it. And there’s certainly a lot of areas where Ye is drooling over his dominion as he marvels at his gold like Uncle Scrooge (“I Am a God,” “Hold My Liquor”). While he’s bashing the narrative of American history with his cold blows to slavery and racism on “New Slaves,” he seems to forget how to treat women when he exercises his own form of slavery: “Ask me why I came over/One more hit and I can own ya/One more f**k and I can own ya.” And most certainly his excuse for the whole tirade will probably be that the bitch deserved it, she’s wasn’t a real lady. But throughout the course of the record, Ye’s approval rating looks almost as good as the approval rating of the Congress. “I’m In It” is where he walks into the same controversial territory of Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. Instead of rapping about date-rape and Emmitt Till, he puts his Black Panther to work: “Black girl sippin’ white wine/Put my fist in her like a civil rights sign.”

Certainly the album is political and emotionally skewered, even if there’s a good deal to analyze and learn from. It’s even hard to hear something like Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” sung by Nina Simone, being intertwined with Ye’s politics on “Blood on the Leaves.” But his 808 beats, the strange Autotune mystique, Simone’s vocal samples, and a relaxing piano accompaniment show off West’s dominance in the production chambers. On “Bound 2,” where he merges Charlie Wilson’s crooning with Brenda Lee and Ponderosa Twins Plus One samples, West finds a clever way to invent a slow jam that feels very indie based. Like it or not, West is reinventing the rap game, pouring one genre after another into the hip-hop box. There’s a good idea that the record will be hailed by some for being innovative and trashed by others for being politically incorrect, but West still sounds like he’s in a different demographic than his peers. But that’s what he really wants anyway. He’s clearly interested on building a legacy and isn’t all that enamored by pop star treatment. When the dust settles, he wants to be as immortal as Jimi Hendrix.

 


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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