It has been painfully clear for a decade now that Kanye West‘s biggest fan is, in fact, Kanye West. His antics have led some cultural commentators to speculate he’s the world’s greatest entertainer. With his life under its new Kardashian-like spell and scrutiny, how does the music hold up?
It’s a question his latest LP “Yeezus” can answer.
For all the flack he gets, he’s good. Album opener “On Sight” takes the standard aughts’ hip-hop sound on a psychedelic electronica ride. It’s the step forward hip hop needs; West is the visionary ready to take it there. Building on 2008’s “Stronger,” West’s take on Daft Punk’s track of a similar name, the album was produced by the much-lauded French electronica duo, their touches – vocoder, synths, effects – evident throughout.
The album’s third track “I am a God” might stir a little controversy before a listen, but could it be as much a statement on the Christian message of one being made in God’s image? You can never tell with West, who is deeper than we give him credit for. Either way, he remains confident he’s got something special, being “the only rapper compared to Michael” (insert Jordan, Phelps or Jackson here). “Hold My Liquor,” a somber and muted take on drunken shenanigans and accidents, is one of the album’s most interesting tracks, if only for the music and lyrics’ disparate messages.
“Yeezus” is filled with paradoxes, charged topics (wholly NSFW), questions without answers. Tracks stream along, sometimes as if in their own worlds, many switching from angry to something less punchy as they go. West might be the star, but “Yeezus” is not an album of singles. It’s authentically West, but “West on Daft Punk,” and it’s another example of West’s refusal to compromise artistically.
The Verdict: The album is a winner, but here’s to hoping West someday learns to tone down the anger to explore what lies beneath it.
Label: Def Jam
Release Date: June 18
Featuring: Frank Ocean, Chief Keef