MUSIC WORLD: My Review of Kanye West’s “Yeezus”
The anticipation for Yeezus mirrored that of any other Kanye West release. Kanye conducted a mostly viral marketing campaign consisting of surprise listening parties, public video projections, and no real single release. Articles were written about how Rick Rubin was called in to help Kanye strip the sound down. Kanye ranted about how he transcended a genre of music. Ahead of the release, we were treated to “New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead,” and “I Am A God.” And then the album leaked. Check my full review below.
Let me begin by stating the obvious. The “singles” we received ahead of the official
leak release are misleading. They in no way represent the whole sound of the album. Honestly, if the album sounded like “New Slaves” or even “Black Skinhead,” I would’ve felt like Kanye was trying something truly innovate and interesting. Almost like a punk-rap genre of music. But instead, we get an album with a background echo, autotune, and a random Buju Banton clone shouting incomprehensible Patois.
The album opens with no warning. The first track, “On Sight” almost sounds like a radio-rip. But I guess this is what Rick Rubin was referencing when he said that Kanye wanted a stripped down sound and they actually ended up “un-producing” a lot of tracks. Kanye premiered a rousing performance of “Black Skinhead” and it still stands out as one of my favorite tracks from the album. The energy of that entire song is captivating. And in the grand scheme of the album, it shines.
After listening to the entire album a few times, I’m still surprised by the amount of autotune that Kanye (and Chief Keef) utilize. It removes the potential freshness of the album. In fact, “Bound 2” sounds like a track that could’ve easily fit into Late Registration. Not because of autotune, but because of the soul sample backtrack. Not quite the progression I was seeking after hearing the lead “singles” from Yeezus.
My favorite tracks from this short project are those that don’t sound like anything that anyone else in hip-hop could or would do right now. “I’m In It” is an early favorite because of the sound and feel of the track. The content is typical comical Kanye West, but the way this track makes me feel is EVERYTHING. I feel the same way about the production on “Blood on the Leaves.” Kanye sampling C-Murder’s “Down 4 My Niggas?” Love it! It’s almost subtle but so recognizable. And to layer that with a sample of Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit,” who else would do that or think of that? Only Yeezus.
Kanye comes off as a true Gemini. He doesn’t know what he wants to express and as such, this album is all over the damn place. We’re new slaves but he then goes on to mention putting his fist in a woman like it’s Civil Rights. I just can’t. I wish he would’ve let this album cook a little more or came with more tracks reminiscent of the first 4. Album about nothing? Kinda. I struggled to write this review because after listening to this entire album 8+ times, I’m still not sure how I feel overall about the project. There are tracks that I absolutely love (see below), there’s sounds that I wish were more prominent, but as a whole, this album feels so disjointed. Take a few tracks and make that super forward punk rap album. Then take a few others and make a trap album. And then put “Bound 2” on Late Registration. What do you think? Help me out here!
Standout Tracks: Black Skinhead, New Slaves, I’m In It, Blood on the Leaves