Sunday 30 June 2013

RFT Album Reviews: Kanye West: Yeezus

Lyrics & Delivery: 3.5/5.0
Production: 4.4/5.0
Overall Score: 4.0/5.0

Review by MrReesh - Multitudinous, never platitudinous - @MrReesh

Are you a God?

Now I know that’s quite a deep philosophical question to start off an album review with, but for the most part I choose to believe that most people lack that certain level of narcissistic corruption to warrant a positive response – not Kanye. Stand (or sit, I can’t tell what you're doing because I’m not a God) in awe of Yeezus, Mr West’s latest solo album. Taking three years to rise it is a good album, albeit plagued by egotistical and self gratifying lyrics and production which sometimes surpasses the line between unique and bizarre. Other times his lyrics can come across generic, though a slight seasoning of Kanye wordplay does spice things up from time to time.

Don't make that face, you know you'd try it
It’s clear that the album is more of a raw emotional release for Kanye, as even from the first few tracks the album lacks that sense of ordered cohesion that Dark Fantasy had in place of attacking melodies and instrumentals. Kicking off with On Sight, a song which nearly made me drop my Supermalt when it started on my iPod on max volume, the beat is distorted and aggressive against a rapid Kanye flow with drops into a classic Ye sample before shifting back to the previous beat. This annoyed me slightly, as if it was saying “Yo Reesh I know you love old Kanye no homo so listen to this, AND NOW MODERN KANYE LMAO”. However the contrast in styles makes for an interesting experience, kind of like bacon and ice cream, with a similar effect occurring at the end of New Slaves which features a Frank Ocean feature which features Frank Ocean because it says so on the album cover, not because you hear it and instantly think Frank Ocean.  

Other songs contain similarly wonderfully raw and aggressive samples such as the soul shaking tuba thingamajig in Blood on The Leaves, which plays alongside an autotune assisted Kanye to produce one of the most exciting tracks on the album, though I’m in It (the tune where he says he speaks “swaghili” and so is the cause of the now popular Instagram caption), Send It Up and Guilt Trip have similar features which take it to a similar level. The tribal Lost In The World echoing Black Skinhead also does this too. Aside from Guilt Trip and Send It Up feeling a bit dragged at some points this simple volatile production works well, as it does enough to get you vybzing to the track and convey the feeling Ye was very obviously going for, without getting you so aggressive that you’d do something like this. Bound comes as a pink suede elephant wearing a top hat though; a more retro Kanye sample beat where he raps about a genuine love? Dafuq? It too is decent, though it seems to be an afterthought that doesn’t feel as polished as the rest of the pieces.

There's too much food in this review
Now it’s when you listen to the lyrics on the album that points start to be lost. Starting with the obviously I Am A God (featuring God), it’s pretty much what you expect: Kanye raps about being a God, hollas at Jesus, speaks some Spanish and some screams play for some reason. It’s a pointless statement song, which is barely fun to listen to, apart from “In a French ass restaurant, hurry up with my DAMN CROISSANTS”. Other songs are better with deeper meanings, such as New Slaves and Blood On The Leaves, though you have to get through a thick layer of narcissism and egotistical lyrical presentations to get to them. Lyrically Bound definitely stands out as the most humanising song on an album named Yeezus, as Ye whips out decent one-liners to drop some ice cold awws on yo b!tch asses. The remainder seem to be the standard; models, drinking, the sex, and a track where Kanye raps like he’s fighting the urge to pee but chooses not to because Gods don’t pee (I assume), and it mostly fails to live up to the quality of production already on the album.

Yeezus is a good album. Its originality of production and feeling of it being something you haven’t heard before makes it something you want to listen to, but whether that feeling lasts as you listen throughout the album is debatable. The problem is its unique sound is like a shell around what is mostly a forgettable album, and much like the poorly applied foundation of a Kardashian sister, cracks do show eventually. Still it’s worth a listen, even if just to contribute to the debate whether it is in fact “good”, but don’t expect the second coming – GEDDIT?

My Top 3:
1) New Slaves
2) Blood On The Leaves
3) I’m In It

Note that the stream below may take you to the Spotify website, though you can still listen without an account.

Photo Credits: 
Bacon ice cream "ZED Bacon n' Egg ice cream cone 2 - ZED451 - Baconfest 2013.jpg" by opacity
Croissants "Croissant - Breadtop" by Alpha

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