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Kanye West – Yeezus Album Review

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Kanye West doesn’t give a fuck about interviews.  Kanye West turned down scholarships to three prestigious art schools as a student.   Kanye West’s recent response to a birthday wish from the paparazzi was, “Don’t ask me questions, man.  Shut up.  Don’t ever talk.”  Whether the man is making headlines for wearing leather kilts or vilifying brands and sponsorships during concert rants, Yeezy has always marched to the beat of his own 808.  Since stepping into the rap game with his “pink ass polos with a fuckin’ backpack,” he has consistently created and stayed in his own lane.  His hatred for YouTube’s aesthetic and building projections of his new video in 66 countries not only illustrate his creativity and a newfound love for minimalist and guerilla style marketing, but his disdain for the ordinary.

Now a new father and somewhat of a recluse, he’s compared himself to the likes of Steve Jobs, Basquiat and Disney.  And with valid reason.  Simply put, whether you love him or loathe him, Yeezy is an innovator.  To label his latest album, Yeezus, Hip Hop would be embarrassingly restrictive and inaccurate.  With creative input by Def Jam’s co-founder Rick Rubin and production by French duo Daft Punk, its offering is an intense compilation of aggressive Electronic and Metal influenced beats reminiscent of fast-paced, headbanging artists like Marilyn Manson and Prodigy.  “I Am a God” is interspersed with piercing shrieks and heavy panting over pulsating brash basslines as Kanye soaks in his awesomeness with lines like, “I know He the most high, but I am a close high” and denounces racism and social class on “New Slaves.”  “Fuck you and your corporation.  Y’all *iggas can’t control me,” he sneers.

Autotune, a popular motif from his 808s and Heartbreaks album, reappears and Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” sample on “Blood on the Leaves” is analogous to the Simone sample on Watch the Throne‘s “New Day”… that is until it’s accompanied by a grating C-Murder beat.  The album’s vast range can be heard on everything from the pornographic Dance Hall/Kim Kardashian (?) influenced “I’m In It” to the melodious, rich electric guitar solo on “Hold My Liquor” featuring Chief Keef and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon.  A soulful Brenda Lee sample and Charlie Wilson feature on “Bound 2” channels vintage Kanye, but the majority of the album is a sonically refreshing breath of fresh air.

With such a strong variety of experimentation, Kanye’s ingenuity has allowed him to mastermind an entirely new game-changing sound.  One could easily lose the listener with such a hodgepodge of tracks, however, one important factor that Ye is known for ties all of the madness together seamlessly – his attention to detail and quality.  Each diverse, individual piece transitions effortlessly to compose a well-mixed and produced cohesive work despite the fact that it can be equated to the intensity of Justice’s “Stress” video.  Every song hits like one of the angry, riotous youths pummeling passersby into the ground as the listener absorbs it wondering what the hell is going on or what is going to invade their ears next.

Without any radio promotion, artwork or press interviews (sans a NY Times article), Yeezus is outright fearless.  Ye’s defiance and ability to demolish the conventional and safe package other artists constantly regift to the mainstream should be commended.  Whether an unshakable faith in his vast fanbase or an indifference to potentially sparse album sales allowed him to take such a bold risk, one cannot be sure, but one thing is evidently clear: his sixth solo album is a dedication to “giving,” as West stated at his New York listening party, “…no fucks at all.”  It’s a beautiful, dark, twisted tribute to one of the most praised artists of our time – himself.