Three perspectives, one record
The Rap Perspective
Ever since Kanye West’s May 1 tweet announcing the date of his sixth solo studio album, fans and critics alike knew that this was going to be a different type of Kanye album, one that would reflect his rise to rap godliness, hence the title, Yeezus. Even though Yeezus marks a sonic departure from West’s usual symphonic instrumentation, the themes of social status, consumerism and of course racial issues are still very present.
This album also depicts some of Kanye’s most provocative lyrics so far, displaying a masterpiece mix of awareness, ignorant wit and classic cocky confidence.
The production is equally aggressive and verbose. The album is filled from top to bottom with thundering drums, which quickly show up then disappear and strange warped samples sprinkled throughout the ten-track LP.
As a big Kanye fan, it is easy to see that this is his least musical project, trading the warm sounds of College Dropout and synth-pop beats of Graduation for more intense and repetition-driven rhythms and sounds. There is no doubt that this is a Kanye we haven’t totally seen before.
Some standout tracks include the center piece entitled “I Am a God” in which Kanye proves how much he embodies rap godliness and Jesus-like qualities.
He maintains a similar tone with “Blood on the Leaves” which is a menacing ballad that finds Kanye flexing his sometimes forgotten rapid-fire rap skills one second and singing an ‘80s-esque regretful chorus the next.
However, my personal favorite is the more upbeat “I’m In It” which features a very soca-reggae-patwa induced vibe that is sure to kill the clubs—Phil’s included.
With Yeezus clocking in at a fairly short 40 minutes, Kanye achieves his goal of creating a stripped-down, simple project that still packs a punch. There’s nothing extra or out of place on this album. More importantly, Kanye makes it very clear that he’s still got a lot to say, and a lot of new ways of saying it.
The Rock Perspective
Having been a casual listener of Kanye West’s previous albums, most notably My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I was completely unprepared for Yeezus.
While rumours had gone around that Yeezus would be a complete departure from any of his other works, Yeezus is the angry, bastard son that no one knew would suddenly reappear. There is an obvious maturation from The College Dropout to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy but Yeezus cranks this evolution up to the fastest speed.
Though a predominantly electronic-based album, there are still rock influences sprinkled throughout. The opening of “Black Skinhead” sounds extremely similar to Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People,” though differing sources have been confirming and denying this fact.
“I Am A God” may be one of the more controversial songs on the albums if not for the title alone, it becomes virtually unlistenable after one or two rotations through the album. West lays down the same tinny beat for the entire song then pairs it with auto-tuned screeches. The last twenty seconds are the best as he ventures into a darker, more rhythmic beat.
One of the best songs would have to be “Bound 2,” as West raps over a high pitched female, or at least heavily auto-tuned, vocal background repeatedly singing “bound to fall in love,” which compliments the rough, angry and direct rapping of West.
It creates a strange juxtaposition as the female vocals sound innocent and West raps such lyrics as, “She asked me what I wished for on the wishlist/Have you ever asked your bitch for other bitches?” So romantic.
This album is ugly and minimalistic, but if you give it a chance it will grow on you and quickly overtake your life.
The Folk Perspective
As a loyal fan of folk, Kanye West is little more to me then the guy who interrupted Taylor Swift at an award show once. Although I am not one to advocate adamantly against putting Taylor in the corner, it was still a cold move. Perhaps this is why I thought so little of his latest album Yeezus, but there are many other factors that could have influenced my opinion as well.
The beat throughout the whole first half of the album sounded like a skipping CD: flat and repetitive. There was no pick up, nor was there a drop to keep me engaged. I feel that any good song should work like a good story with a rise and fall in the melody similar to that in a plot, although he did manage to shock with his daring combination of sounds at times.
Some would say that his selection was eclectic as he mixed old with new and borrowed from different cultures, but I will always choose fresh and organic over used and recycled. I am slightly biased in this way for a mixing board achieves innovation differently than an instrument does, but I think the same can be said for his tired lyrics. It amazes me that there are any more rhymes to be made about money, sex and over inflated ego, but Kanye kept them coming all the same. It was everything I expected, and I couldn’t have been happier to return to my banjos and harmonicas.