Kanye West – Yeezus
by Erica Moser (Journalism), published June 25th 2013
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
The world is full of artists who create on a maximalist scale but fall short of their ambitions, leaving behind works that feel forced, disappointing and unspectacular. Kanye West is not one of them. Yeezus, Kanye’s sixth solo album, is rife with disruptive wailing, children’s choir interludes, blues and reggae sampling, frenetic breathing and noises that frankly lack an accessible analogy – and it works.
Yeezus goes to a place that is darker, more synthesized and more discordant than most of his other albums. The spacey blips beginning “On Sight,” the opening track, indicate that Kanye is probably just a lonely alien trying to communicate with his kind on the planet Narcissistia. He continues to stretch the limits of self-absorption, evidenced particularly by the track “I Am a God” (“hurry up with my damn massage / in a French-ass restaurant / hurry up with my damn croissants”).
Kanye’s gargantuan ego has proven an interpersonal vice but a musical virtue. This narcissism, paired with a manic sense of urgency, makes the album appealing not because it is relatable but because it is so far off from a standard notion of reality that it is fascinating. Even so, Yeezus feels less about Kanye as a person than about Kanye as the holder of a grandiose, whirling idea that will plow down anything trying to stop it.
He continues to churn out lyrical gems with double entendres, topical references and clever analogies. On “New Slaves,” he manages to touch on social organization, gender roles and sex in one sentence: “You see there’s leaders and then there’s followers / but I’d rather be a dick than a swallower.” And the hypersexual “I’m in It” has an element that’s become rare in an increasingly pop-culture-centric world: shock value.
“Blood on the Leaves” continues the album’s avant-garde trend, with discordant horns and a squeaky sample of Nina Simone singing “Strange Fruit.” The Auto-Tune scattered throughout the second half of the album is the one thing that seems excessive. The last track, “Bound 2,” is lighter, more laid-back and reminiscent of early Kanye.
Yeezus was not what I was expecting. It’s hard to expect anything from Kanye West, because each album has different influences at its crux. It’s also hard to predict what Kanye’s future will be. His arrogance could grow old, or conversely, he could gain some humility, which might actually be detrimental to the quality of his music. But for now, he has created another “beautiful, dark, twisted fantasy” that, like his preceding albums, does not disappoint.
Recommended tracks: Black Skinhead, New Slaves, Blood on the Leaves