With the ironic growth in “mainstream-underground” and unsigned artists selling out concerts across the globe, it was inevitable that Ye would drop an anti-pop record to stay current with the way the music industry is changing and progressing. His handling of publicity and promotion reflects the break from the status-quo of previous releases-especially the PR fail that was “…Dark Fantasy…“. Chi-town artist Kanye West collabs with legend Rick Rubin for an experiment in sound on his 6th studio album “Yeezus“.
With “Yeezus“, West takes the listener on a journey of sound with similar elements of socio-political, distrust of the opposite sex, success, racism, and ego-stroking raps. What makes this ride different is the change in tone and a more “in your face” delivery over fusions of rock, dancehall, Chicago drill, acid house, and industrial music.
The opening “On Sight” is a synth-heavy, electro ride that quickly changes the beat right before you get comfortable and this theme echoes throughout the entire album. Tracks like “Black Skinheads” and “New Slaves” are when Kanye takes a more serious note and is at his best. There is no soft delivery or joke as Ye spits about the sociological and economically enslavement of black America and tries to make a statement, while still finding time to boast on the contradictory “I Am A God“. What many may think is another track about his self proclaimed greatness also holds commentary and undertones of the big head that comes with great success and luxury.
The following tracks “I’m In It” featuring Travi$ Scott and “I Can Hold My Liquor” featuring Chief Keef & Justin Vernon seem more like a quick chance for new up-and-coming artists to shine. These tracks fail to give that same club banger appeal that the heavy bass in “Send It Up” featuring King L provide. Offering a brief interlude of slow rhythms and themes about partying, drinking, and women as West transitions into the gem “Blood On The Leaves“.
Sampled from the powerful civil rights song “Strange Fruit” by Nina Simone, “Blood On The Leaves” finds Ye spitting a nightmarish tale about divorce and childbirth. Not really the most powerful use of a symbolic tune but still holds some blasphemous humor as he compares alimony to being lynched. Similar to “Gold Digger” and not sure if this is a slight commentary at what could come of his situation with Kim Kardashian, TNGHT‘s yin and yang drum work really make this track stand-out as one of the strongest. The following “Guilt Trip” featuring former G.O.O.D. music rapper Kid Cudi continues to the same theme of distrust in woman but is congested in too much auto-tune on the chorus and synth, dancehall sampling. Finishing off with a smooth track “Bound 2” with a infectious throwback beat and hook from Chi-town crooner Charlie Wilson, Kanye offers a little commercial friendliness and soft listen to the other 35+ minutes of heavy hitting rhythms.
In “Yeezus“, we get a Kanye that is not afraid to piss you off with his bravado but still make a sound that is infectious to hate that you love it. With Rick Rubin as executive producer, we get a minimalist sound that is still experimental and powerful in its delivery. What could have easily fallen on the line of over-produced, comes across more refine and equally radical. From falling in love with the world’s most famous opportunist to expected father hood, “Yeezus” was somewhat expected to have that glow that accomplishments would bring but this is not the case. This latest effort is a step into a darker, more serious side of Kanye that is equally discomforting as it is provocative and innovative. What sets it apart from the other contender, like J.Cole and Mac Miller, is the passion and the wittiness that only a ego-maniacal musical genius like Kanye West could properly deliver.