by Appollonia K.
When I first heard that Kanye West’s new album was about to drop I was excited to see what he had in store for us. Not only because Kanye is an amazing producer and unique emcee, but because Watch The Thrones was so disappointing to me. Considering the perfectionist that ‘Ye is, I was certain that whatever he had as the follow-up would be better than the former, experimental, and pushing boundaries.
Then Kanye released the name of the album, Yeezus. The sheer audacity of the title is not surprising for a character like Mr. West, but with such a risky choice I felt that he must have something major to back it up. He further perpetuated that sentiment with premiering his video for “New Slaves” on the side of city buildings, and SNL performances of “New Slaves” and “Black Skinhead”. The hype for the album became immense, projecting a half-million units in its first week.
Then the album leaked, and the world listened. As with any Kanye release, the internet immediately became filled with quotes, opinions, and dissections of the album. My initial impression of the album is mixed. Kanye seems to have a clear vision for this album. Although, most of the lyrics seem improvised, the concept for the album seems very intentional. Actually, the improv was the most experimental part of the album. The actual production of the album was no more experimental conceptually than a number of “underground” albums today. That’s not to take away from the quality of the production, which is flawless. It is just pretty evident to fellow music lovers that Kanye is a fan of music as well, and has kept up with the different directions that hip hop has been going. He is able to take something that mainstream Hip Hop listeners might not ever have been exposed to any time soon and help to broaden horizons. Kanye fused of EDM (Electronic Dance Music), Rock, Reggae, etc. into a score for the ramblings in his head. The album reminds me of a 2013 College Dropout with its use of samples and rhyme style. With this album, it is just as easy to see how Kanye has stayed the same over the years as it is to see how he has changed.
With controversial titles like “Black Skinhead” it is evident that Kanye is trying to push buttons with this album. And most of the time is done effectively. But occasionally there are tracks like the megalomania filled “I Am God”. Maybe it’s just me but I have no idea where Kanye was going with this one. I expected some noble notion, some higher level of understanding. But all I got was Kanye ranting about himself, basically giving everyone the verbal middle finger, and proclaiming unflinchingly this that he was God. And then there is the beautifully produced “Blood On The Leaves”. The reasoned why I emphasize “produced” is because I am almost certain that no one has explained to him exactly what Lady Day’s (Billie Holiday) “Strange Fruit” is actually about. But there are a few stand out songs to me like “Black Skinhead”, “New Slaves”, and “I’m In It” that make the album worthy of supporting.
At the end of the day, artistically it’s no My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy, but I definitely think it’s worth a listen. And we can be certain that the performances for this album will be just as epic as the rest. Yeezus, which is Kanye’s sixth studio album, is set to release on June 18th. A French release of the album, as posted by Amazon.com, contains four additional untitled songs. Check out the track list below.
1. On Site
2. Black Skinhead
3. I Am God feat. God
4. New Slaves feat. Frank Ocean
5. Hold My Liqour feat. Chief Keef & Justin Vernon
6. I’m In It
7. Blood On The Leaves
8. Guilt Trip feat. Kid Cudi
9. Send It Up feat. King L
10. Bound 2 feat. Charlie Wilson