After two successful collaborative albums with Jay-Z (Watch The Throne) and G.O.O.D Music (Cruel Summer), Kanye West has released his first solo album in three years, arguably his most controversial album to date: Yeezus.
After admitting he compromised himself in the making of his fifth solo album (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) by taking into account what the audience and the critics wanted from his music, Kanye looks to have ignored everyone with this latest album and just made what he wants to make. Hark back to 2008 when the Chicago rapper released “808’s and Heartbreaks”; no-one was quite sure how to take it initially but people knew it had something special about it because it was so outrageously different from anything else out there, then MBDTF was released and now “Yeezus”. Take MBDTF out of the equation and you’ll see exactly what “Yeezus” is; an in-your-face, blaring evolution of “808’s and Heartbreaks”.
Kanye West has collaborated with and sampled from everyone and their dog to produce this album with the likes of Rick Rubin, Daft Punk and Skrillex, having prominent roles in producing this 10-track LP and getting the best out of samples from the likes of Brenda Lee and Pusha T. Such an esteemed list of contributors has taken Kanye’s sound to new places, places we haven’t seen him go to before and it’s an exciting album for the listener in that sense because you’re seeing one of hip-hop’s best really push the envelope and push himself too (he even screams at least a dozen times on various tracks, how often do you see that in an album of this genre?). The first half of the album contains very minimalist beats and rhythms with the emphasis very much being on the lyrics as West discusses some pretty political and controversial topics however the second half of the album sees Yeezy step it up a few levels as the beats hit much harder and make for a somewhat messy listen initially but given the time, like “808’s and Heartbreaks“, the quality of the product as a whole begins to shine through.
Looking at the lyrics in a bit more depth, West tells the listener right from the off that the next forty minutes of listening are, in his opinion, going to be like nothing they’ve heard from him before. A brief blast of electronic rhythms titled “On Sight”, sees West make his intentions known and let’s everyone know what they’re about to listen to with lyrics like “Yeezy season’s approachin … **** whatever else y’all been hearing … the Monster’s about to come alive again”. The track also contains references to things that West is known to be particularly angered with i.e the power of corporations, racism, criticism of interracial relationships, religion and the album continues in this manner with West airing his grievances about his life and what he perceives to be wrong with the world.
The following three tracks (Black Skinhead, I am a God and New Slaves) see West delve deeper into the topics of racism, religion and corporations before delving into the matters of his personal life, particularly his experiences with women, for the rest of the album.
You can check out West’s live performance of New Slaves on the American show, Saturday Night Live, here!
This album is so polarizing and so different to anything else that Kanye has done before that it really needs to be heard a few times over to be appreciated for what it is. West is known for his hard-hitting lyrics and this album is no different in that regard and with Yeezus being hailed as one of the most exciting albums of the year by high-profile music reviewers out there, it looks like Kanye should throw the rulebook out of the window more often!
Watch the video for Black Skinhead Live on SNL:
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