Not everybody wants to follow ‘Yeezus’

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Illustration by Charlotte Fassler (http://charlottefassler.com)

Depending on where you stand in the scope of personal music taste, Kanye West’s new album could be many different things. However love it or hate it, one thing that is consistent is the word ‘unconventional’. This word stands firm as all encompassing to describe Kanye album.

What also can’t be missed is with a name like “Yeezus” and the first track “I am a God” Kanye’s album sure enough bursts in through the open doors at its release date dressed in nothing less than controversy.

Kanye is undoubtedly a man of anti-establishment beliefs. He shouts this out with how he presented his now 6th studio album. The album has no artwork. The CD is simply placed in a clear case with only a red sticker on top. On top of that there are no radio singles. In true Kanye fashion he did his own thing and went the alternative route with marketing Yeezus.

Due to release on the 18th of June, Kanye decided to give his fans a taste, or rather a whole bite, by playing the 9 songs which make up the album at 66 different locations on the 17th of May all around the globe. The music videos where projected onto buildings and national landmarks.

I however feel the album as a whole falls short of the initial controversy, the hype and the marketing tactics. His last album “My beautiful twisted dark fantasy” set the mark for me for a succinctly orchestrated creative “genius” (as Kanye himself would say). All the tracks and music videos of this album were put together in a 33 minute ‘movie’. He blended rap beats with elements of pianos, trumpets and other more contemporary sounds as well as a rock and roll type sound into something that flowed smoothly into each other and worked well as a whole.

He tries again to mix different elements into hip hop with Yeezus, however I feel it doesn’t hold as tightly together. There’s a reggae feel to the song ‘I’m in it’ but it’s drowned with a mis-matched falsetto chorus.

The song “black skin head” is one of the few that really work. Particularly transcending the boundaries of hip hop into something leaning towards ‘punk rock’ with its pounding dark drum beats and a Marilyn Manson sample chopped and screwed to fit more into Kanye’s more computerized based sound. Its beat is definitely one of the more magnetic and catchy on the album, something which could be attributed to techno/electro duo Daft Punk who had a hand in producing a number of tracks.

Even though this album is acclaimed in the media for being ‘experimental hip hop’, many experimental hip hop die-hard fans feel Yeezus is something short of trying to imitate ‘Death Grips, what some consider ‘real’ experimental hip hop done ‘right’.

However, the second track on the album “New Slaves” is getting positive responses from most spheres of listeners. Starting with a very simple beat and kanye chiming in with;

“My momma was raised in the era when/clean water was only served to the fairer skin…”

It catches the ear of the listener. In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Kanye is quoted in saying, “We got this new thing called classism. It’s racism’s cousin. This is what we do to hold people back.” This theme seems to be carried out in this song, also on the next song, “Blood on the leaves”.

Blood on the leaves” would potentially be a great song if Kanye would just stop trying to push the out-dated auto-tune technique on his voice. The song makes use of another sample, this time it’s a snippet of Nina Simone’s rendition of “Strange fruits” blended with Kanye’s pounding beats. This blend admittedly works well.

Lyrically, I feel the album does not match up to the interesting concepts and word play in his previous albums ‘College Drop out’ and ‘808’s and heart breaks.’ I feel Kanye throws in too many cheesy lines here and there.  (e.g. “start a fight club/Brad reputation” really Kanye?)

Nevertheless, as a mild fan of hip hop (and a lover of anything alternative and experimental) if all 9 tracks played on the radio I wouldn’t necessarily turn it off, but I wouldn’t necessarily buy the whole album either. I would however add the songs:

  • I am a God
  • Black skinhead
  • Blood on the Leaves
  • New Slaves

To my iPod playlist. The only songs of merit on the album. Kanye West is actually a good artist, as I said he proved this with previous works and that’s exactly why I think he can do better than Yeezus.

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2 thoughts on “Not everybody wants to follow ‘Yeezus’

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