The thing that smacks me in the face about Yeezus is the extreme route that Kanye’s taken with the production. The fizzy, distorted synthwork from the first seconds of the album persists throughout, generating a brutal wall of sound that augments the rage that Kanye conveys lyrically. Many of the songs on the album channel the upcoming trend of trap music. Even besides the guest producer track, Blood On The Leaves (featuring the talents of upcoming trap producer Hudson Mohawke, HudMo), the syncopated 808 kicks and bike chain hihats persist.
HudMo’s signature dotted brass blasts embody what’s happening on this new album. Bombast is the name of the game. Whatever shackles still remained on what Kanye would do have fallen off and we’re left with hooks like “Fuck them other niggas cause I’m down with my niggas”. In fact, on this album, Kanye is somewhat of a hook machine. Stuck in my mind particularly are “There’s leaders and there’s followers, but I’d rather be a dick than a swallower”, and of course the line that everybody’s been waiting for from the ego-emperor: “I am a God”.
Overall, the album is caustic, bold, and upfront. If all you’ve ever wanted from Kanye was the berserker method, here it is. I think the album is perfectly summed up at around the three minute mark of I Am A God, when the song gives way to manic, primal screams. Enjoy.
Picks: I Am A God, I’m In It, Blood On The Leaves
For anyone who has had their head in the sand since The College Dropout, I guess a listen to Yeezus might be a bit of a shock. I like to imagine someone who thought Eminem’s iconic claim, “it feels so empty without me”, was a bit arrogant might fall off his or her chair during West’s collaboration with God. West must expect heavy criticism in the aftermath of this release, but I guess every superhero needs his theme music.
A vast deviation from the sublime of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, yet still containing that unmistakable tone, the album itself is at times brilliant yet sometimes seems to become engulfed in its own pervading melancholy. However, fans afraid that with the birth of Kanye’s first child his best work may be behind him take hope. This is not the sound of a man preparing to settle down. Keep watching.
Picks: On Sight, Hold My Liquor
Following weeks of promotional projections, leaked online material, and the release of a tracklist featuring a collaboration with none other than ‘God’ himself, Kanye’s latest album is exactly as expected. Continuing to break down boundaries, innovate and surprise, the production is dark and intense, incorporating twisted samples and Kanye’s trademark, often aggressively intoned vocals.
The opening track, On Sight, is a perfect example of this, with Kanye laying down a mission statement for the album over a Daft Punk-produced beat derived out of Phuture’s 1987 Chicago house classic, Acid Tracks. Yeezey raps, “A monster about to come alive again/soon as I pull up and park the Benz”, yet another vaguely religious reference. Nevertheless, fitting words in a summer many have pinpointed as the second coming of hip-hop. The album’s uncomfortably difficult to listen to, but undoubtedly an artistic masterpiece.
Pick: Blood On The Leaves