Kanye West makes a hilarious venture into experimental sound with his new album, Yeezus. People have been anticipating this for a while as Kanye just has an incredible shock value to his person. He continues the shock value with his difference in production from his previous work, although it’s not exactly new if you’re musically cultured. But who am I?
When I say this album is hilarious, I’m talking about most of the vocal aspects to it. For the most part Kanye’s lyrics are straightforward and rather simplistic, and in some cases very mediocre. On “I’m In It”, Mr. Hoover West is talking about eating da butt and cunnilingus on Asians with sweet and sour sauce. Then he has Chief Keef as a feature sounding like a drunken child singing something he took a whole two seconds to think up. “AAAH CAN’ HADNOW MAH LICK-UHHHH, BUH DEEZ B** CAND HANDOW MIEIEEEE!!!”
And honestly, there are moments like this all over the album. I was literally cracking up most of the time I was listening to Yeezus.
“But I got her back in, put my d** in her mouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuth”
But then he also has some decent lyrical moments, or conceptual more specifically. “Black Skinheads” is one of the better tracks on the album where he’s just expressing a bunch of anti-racist sentiments, and sort of responding to the criticisms to him that are generally what other judgmental blacks would say. “New Slaves” is also another good song conceptually and in general (my favorite on the album by far). In that song he speaks of materialism and how the big heads in industries and labels use materialism to control the artists or whoever else they’re exploiting. He also had a few good punchlines here and there like “She got more n** off than Cock-ran”. Personally I never considered Kanye much of a pure rapper as much as a songmaker and producer anyway, so this is no surprise to me, there are slight disappointments and slight surprises in his lyricism (even though the latter was likely written by someone else). *coughcough
The production on this album had its up and downs as well, but none too high or low. One thing that stuck out about it is that some of the songs sound like those he’s done before. The beginning and hook parts of “Hold My Liquor” sound awfully similar to “Lost in the World”, and the other part sounds like “Stronger”.
There’s also a few instances of overproduction in that song, like the fact that Chief Keef had to have autotune and all that other random stuff going on in his parts, like if he really wanted to drown out Keef’s voice that bad he could’ve just not had him on the track. The transitions in “I’m In It” are hella unfocused too, it just sounds like he made like three different songs then tried to mash them together and had to do awkward stuff like add random screams to make them sound right. “Send It Up” has this really obnoxious digital zap at the end of the song that feels poorly executed, and Beenie Man’s melody doesn’t exactly match the beat it’s over. On the upside, several of the instrumentals simply sound great and are what you’d expect from Yeezy, like “Blood On the Leaves” which has an excellent sample choice and the drop is oh so nice. “New Slaves” has a fantastic melody that you’d probably catch someone doing the dougie to sometime in the near future if you haven’t already. As a matter of fact, “Hold My Liquor” and “I’m In It” were the only flubs on the production end.
Ye’s overindulgence can get a little annoying now and then though. “Blood On the Leaves” was ruined by a nonstop dose of his migraine-inducing singing through autotune. There was also the many aforementioned unnecessary transitions throughout the project that hurt the quality of Yeezus. And of course, the lyrics, which were hilarious and underwhelming at times, and at others
But Kanye makes it a goal to show you how much he “doesn’t give a f**”. The lyrics in “I’m In It” had a lot of personality and typical Ye charisma. In “Bound 2” he also displays high levels of ignorance like saying he doesn’t remember when he first met his girl nonchalantly. While these moments add a lot of Kanye’s persona into them, they don’t feel like there was much thought and effort behind them. That lack of effort shows throughout the whole album.
What’s likely the most anticipated and popular thing to come from hip-hop this year was pretty average. I feel its decentness was contributed to by simply lack of concern. Kanye is very talented at production and relating to people and it shows in this, but he didn’t seem to care enough to fine tune this album or come up with great ideas. The lyricism seems awful lazy. The production, while often good, doesn’t seem greatly envisioned and seems more of like playing with sounds. Still Kanye hasn’t fallen off, and the direction he’s taking in his music doesn’t seem as uncomfortable for him as many would think it is.
Album Grade: C