There might be no rational way to approach the persona of KANYE WEST. It’s not only him as a person, it’s also him as an artist, producer, celebrity and rapper. He might be – with respect – one of the biggest douchebags in pop business. An arrogant egomaniac who thinks he stands above the rest. A blessing to humanity in his eyes. Or maybe he’s just misinterpreted. He is – without any doubt – an exception. And there sometimes just is a thin line between genius and insanity. Yeezus, the sixth studio album by the platinum selling rapper, is a testament of this balancing act. It’s KANYE WEST all over ten intense tracks – new but still familiar. Delusions of grandeur in rap form – if you like it, good for you. If not, than get prepared for some harsh words from the man himself.
Although WEST released plenty of music in the past years – especially a collaboration album with his homie JAY-Z – Yeezus is actually the first solo longplayer since the completely overdosed but critically well received My Dark Twisted Fantasy from 2010. It’s like a rough, more reduced follow-up to that record which was quite long and filled with possibly every guest star you can think of. Yeezus still got plenty of guest stars – including FRANK OCEAN, KID CUDI and BON IVER‘s Justin Vernon who really seems to become KANYE‘s new best buddy. But they are fewer in numbers and we only got ten tracks right here, no useless interludes or extra tracks. KANYE WEST keeps it rough and simple and quite dark. As he recently said at the longplayer’s listening session his new release strategy is to have no strategy at all. So, the cover is – well, quite minimalistic, we ain’t got no real official music video yet and the whole release happened quite fast and out of the sudden.
New KANYE is flowing as hard and perfect as the old one, his production is state of the art. Since rap music split itself up into different directions recently he obviously didn’t tend to follow the shiny EDM-style like some of his colleques but rather the uprising underground heroes like DEATH GRIPS or the whole ODD FUTURE gang. Experimental, courageous and unpretty – this is what he likes to sound in 2013, it seems. On Sight starts the record with rough electronic sirens and dirty analog synthies. Produced by DAFT PUNK it clearly has not much to do with their recently released soulful longplayer Random Access Memories. It’s dark and noisy, WEST sounds angry. Same goes for the upcoming Black Skinhead and I Am a God (!) – also both produced by the French robots. Deep sub basses, wild beats and KANYE screaming exhausting into the microphone. Always combined with his megalomaniac lyrics. “I just talked to Jesus, and he said, ‘What up, Yeezus?’” he raps in I Am a God, resulting in uncontrolled screams at the end. The genius is going mental – what a musical experience.
KANYE WEST keeps it simple although the dark and dirty electronic beats always get interrupted by tender soul samples. New Slaves, for example starts this way, before FRANK OCEAN turns the tune into a whole new direction. “These bitches can’t handle me” claims the rapper in Hold My Liquor. Justin Vernon acts as auto tune bard which is really weird in a song like I’m In It. A song that clearly shows that WEST isn’t a fan of soft penetration when it comes to pleasuring a lady in his bedroom. Well, okay, thanks for putting that in a song, Yeezus. With so much anger, power and explicit language a relatively soft album closer like Bound 2 might be surprising. But well, just listen to the lyrics and you’ll find not much softness in it.
So all in all – what do we get out of Yeezus? Basically – if you love KANYE you will love him again with this powerful, brave and futuristic record. If you hate him, there’ll be new arguments. You might even hate him while loving him or at least his music. The polarizing aspect of this man is what might keep the spark alive. And it looks like he can get away with this balance once again. Why? Because this is simply entertaining, challenging and exciting new music that is bridging the gap between hip hop, rap, electronic, pop and avant-garde. He claims the throne of the game and whoever challenges him might not have an easy time, that much is for sure.