Yeezus Album Review
Def Jam Recordings
Released June 18, 2013
Genre: Hip Hop, Industrial Hip Hop, Experimental Hip Hop
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was Kanye West at his most excessive, in content, instrumentation, and ambition. And whether people loved him or not, the album provided a glimpse into the mental psyche of one of the most prolific figures of the 21st century. In his own terms, Kanye accepted himself as a dick, an arrogant fool, an asshole. But also as the center of media attention, and the proponent behind some of pop music’s greatest moments, a “two-face” for a new era of music. It was gutsy of him to try to identify as both as the same time, and that’s what makes him such a polarizing figure. However, unbeknownst to the some people, the highly subversive “noise hop” genre was slowly rising with acts like clipping. and Death Grips leading the charge. So when the highly anticipated Yeezus dropped, some could tell that Mr. West has been catching that “fever”.
Yeezus, in a nutshell, is Kanye West’s take on the noise hop genre. It sounds panicked, inventive, and hostile, taking the paranoia and confusion of MBDTF and utilizing those emotions in a very, very loud manner. The razor sharped “On Sight” starts the album off, indicating a sneak peek of what to expect on Yeezus, as does every song on this album (albeit the soulfull “Bound 2”). And whether Kanye masks his usual musical habits with the noise hop genre, is completely up to you. To me, I thought he did it well.
Kanye is still the arrogant prick that we’ve all known to witness. Yeezus is merely a portrait of his psyche at this point in his life. The thunderous “Black Skinhead” sounds like a bold proclamation, and artistic statement, rather than a cash-grabbing single. “I Am A God (feat. God)” is Kanye at his most controversial on this album, giving listeners a bit of (tongue in cheek?) narcissism to complete the package. The stellar “New Slaves” makes the cuts off of The College Dropout sound like kids tunes as the track, to this day, remains hard-hitting and attention grabbing.
A notable aspect of Yeezus is the amount of samples used. You though MBDTF had a lot of samples? A LARGE majority of the samples on Yeezus range from the predictable to the obscure as West pieces together lyrical samples, beats,and vocal swoons to craft an album that retains its subversive nature and accessible. Accessibility is what truly drives Yeezus as an important album. On “Blood On The Leaves,” West mashes together TNGHT’s “R U Ready” and a pitched up sample of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit”, a long shot risk to aim for a beat dropping tune, yet still becomes an accessible and almost immediately recognized tune for Kanye fans.
At this point, I can’t fully convince you. I can’t deny that Yeezus will be the fork in the road for Kanye fans. If you like it you like it, If you don’t, you don’t. Yeezus, in all its glory, is an artistic statement that shows an artist , at the apex of his skill, experimenting with new sounds and opportunities to keep his name as important as it can get. Yeezus is controversial, hard-hitting, “new”, and for me, it just might be the best album I’ve heard all year. What Kanye has done is not only expand on his musical repertoire, but he’s also made bridged the gap between hip hop and noise hop, a necessary union.
So soak in the repercussions, for just as the projection shut off as “New Slaves” ended on the W Hotel late at night in LA, we and the world had just gotten a glimpse of Kanye’s artistic statement. Everyone will look back at 2013 as the year where Kanye took the expectations held for him, threw it on the ground, tried something new and controversial and surprisingly nailed it. Imagine the world five or ten years from now, what will everyone call Yeezus? Some may say it was the album where they lost interest with Kanye. Or the album that marked his new phase in music. Whatever the outcome, just take it for what many critics along with myself have given it: a sonic, enduring and soon-to-be classic.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Black Skinhead, I Am A God, New Slaves, Hold My Liquor, I’m In It, Blood On The Leaves, Bound 2
LEAST FAV TRACK: Send It Up