Kanye West- “Yeezus”
Post- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Kanye West has included a tabloid romance complete with a pregnancy and albums with Jay-Z and his entire G.O.O.D music group. Fans of his music have been wondering how all of this would affect his solo albums. Yeezus is their answer.
Yeezus is a melting pot of hip hop, punk, alternative and soul music. Their isn’t one single traditional radio cut song on this album. There’s no “All of the Lights” to be found here. Instead, people get shades of Kanyes past and present.
The album starts off with “On Sight” and is surprisingly weak in comparison to the rest of the album. It’s produced by Daft Punk whose instrumentals are closer to their Tron soundtrack then Random Access Memories. It devolves into the sound of lasers firing.
The low point ends as soon as it came when “Black Skinhead” comes roaring into one’s ears. This track also incorporated Daft Punk and would make Rage Against The Machine proud. Its gritty and come from West’s gut. It’s a statement track incorporating lines about “Chiraq” ; the term given to Chicago due to the fact more people currently die in shootings on its streets than in Iraq.
“I Am A God” follows “Black Skinhead” and has Watch the Throne overtones with less material references. West has lines like “Pink ass polos with a fucking backpack/ Now everybody know who brought real rap back”. “I Am A God” is statement on his standing in life. The song bridges out to becoming an ambient electronic dance track with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) soothing listeners.
The fourth and final Daft Punk led production is “New Slaves”. “New Slaves” should have led off the album. It sums up Yeezus and is some lyrical magic. West really nails the craft of being rapper. It’s easy to see why it was chosen for the projections across the world and was performed on Saturday Night Live. The raw protest anger of “New Slaves” is lifted by some Frank Ocean vocals towards the end of the track.
"New Slaves" projection in Phoenix, AZ
Yeezus takes a sharp turn on “Hold My Liquor”. The track starts with some layered Vernon vocals that became a trademark in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West also employs fellow Chicagoan, Chief Keef for this song’s chorus. Chief Keef is used in the same vein as rapper Future is used for Lil Wayne’s “Love Me”. West tells a story of too much self-indulgence and post break up relations. He also references Deepak Chopra and 2 Pac with some great wordplay.
“I’m In It” is the second track to take issue with. The issue is small with two out-of-place Rasta infused vocal breakdowns in the middle of a sex charged song. “I’m In It” has just one to many elements in play to make it work as a whole.
Yeezus then takes us back to 808s and Heartbreak Kanye West with “Blood On The Leaves”. The heavy autotune and rap singing reminds a listener of man whose heart was once very broken. The sample of “Strange Fruit” performed by Nina Simone is haunting and is the perfect complement to West’s storytelling.
“Guilt Trip” keeps listeners back in the land of 808s and Heartbreak for one more song. It’s alternative rap that fittingly includes Kid Cudi. It’s new wave music with a hip hop verse in the middle. I thought it should have built to a straight verse like on “The Zone” by The Weeknd that features Drake.
Listeners are pulled out of the synth and psychedelic state for three minutes of industrial rock and rap. King L, another Chicago native guests for a verse. He’s smooth and quick and sets the stage for West’s verse. This is the only night club type track on Yeezus and even that’s a stretch.
Unexpectedly, Yeezus closes with some circa 2004 The College Dropout Kanye West. “Bound 2” contains samples of 50s and 60s rockabilly pop tunes with West’s raw and honest lyrics. It’s the classic Yeezy that we fell in love with. It shows behind the wealth, mink and leather pants there is still the mama’s boy from Chicago we came to love.