#6 – Kanye West – ‘Yeezus’
This guy. He became a father, he attacked paparazzi, he challenged President Obama and between all that Kanye West had time to release his sixth studio and claim he is a God in the process. An album which makes it at number 6 on my list of the best albums of 2013, a moment of silence please for the Church of Yeezus is now in session.
Released in June of 2013 this album was marred with controversy from the get go. First lets talk about the title of the album; ‘Yeezus’. Not content with the title of rapper, producer and to some extent a fashionista, Kanye wanted the world to know that he was the best in the game and what better way to do that than to claim you are a God, right?
Im not going to pretend I had time for Kanye West and his shit in 2013 so when I first heard the album I took ask instant disliking towards it. It was just noise. A grown man having what seemed like a temper tantrum assisted with a whole lotta noise.
So after one listen it got a ZERO rating from me. But then on several more listens that 0 turned into a 1.. into a 2 and then a 3 (mind you this is out of 5 so to go from 0 to 3 is quite a jump).
I really had to separate Kanye West the celebrity from Kanye West the rapper/producer because with this album the two got really blurred and it was hard to take Kanye seriously at times. On the track ‘New Slaves’ he talks about how he hates corporations and the like yet he has a deal with Nike, is signed to Def Jam and is affiliated with the biggest family business in the world right now; The Kardashians.
But when I finally did separate the two sides of Kanye I found myself really enjoying parts of the album. I say parts because some of the album still sound like something you’d hear at a rave where you’d need to be on high on a cocktail of acid, molly and tequila to enjoy it and thats the shit I don’t like.
Any hopes and dreams anyone had of a reprise of Kanye West circa ‘The College Dropout’ are dead and buried with this album as the overall tone of this album is brash and aggressive and could interpreted as music’s version of a ‘Fuck You’ to society, corporations and everything else Kanye West seems to hate except himself.
The production on this album is slightly hit and miss in places but when Kanye West is good, he is GOOOOOOD. The sample of Nina Simone’s ‘Strange Fruit’ on the track ‘Blood On The Leaves’ (which happens to be my favourite on the album) is a pure stroke of genius. He blends well both the sample and his own aggressive instrumental to make a completely different song altogether to the point you’d think Nina Simone’s sample wasn’t a sample at all but something recorded solely for ‘Blood On The Leaves’. See, when Kanye is good. HE IS GOOD.
‘Bound 2’ is the only glimmer of old school Kanye West that we get to see on this album with the track sampling heavily from various soul artists including Ronnie Self’s ‘Sweet Nothin’s’ where the ‘uh huh honey’ hook comes from along with Charlie Wilson providing vocals. The song still is one of the better moments on an album . The only problem with the song is the accompanying video. Oh Lord the video. I don’t mind the whole ‘Kimye’ union but there were so many things wrong with that video I can’t even begin.
Of course Kanye had a reason for the terrible video which was that he was mocking white trash America and everything is symbolised but in all honesty I think the guy just didn’t have a clue what the hell to do for the video.
And that is one of the issues I had with this album, though in parts it is a brilliantly produced and often lyrically witty body of work from Kanye, it was his ego and incessant verbal diarrhoea that ruined it for me in 2013. I know I said that I separated Kanye West the celebrity from Kanye West the rapper/producer when listening to this album but after a while some of the shit this guy spewed in interviews was just too left field even for me to take a blind eye to.
Lyrically, the album is a strong one with many of Kanye’s trademark play on words and double entendres seen in the album even if at times some of the stuff he’s complaining about I don’t think he even believes in. Production wise its clear that Kanye is in another lane when it comes to his beats. If all the producers are going left, Kanye decides to take a risk and go right and it pays on many a time on the album with many different genres, punk, ska, reggae and hip hop all being fused together. Where JT and JayZ’s albums failed, Kanye’s production is so in your face and innovative it doesn’t feel dated or tired on multiple listens.
Different from anything else produced in 2013 and potentially the starting point for a new style of HipHop to emerge, Kanye’s ‘Yeezus’ took some replays for me to fully get my head around but when I did I was impressed.
He just needs to stop talking.
Less is more Kanye. Don’t speak and let the music do the talking for you in 2014 I BEG YOU!