Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kanye West – Yeezus (2013) – Review

Review: Kanye West is a leader of artistic creativity in hip hop, often drastically altering the direction of the genre with each release. His sixth album, Yeezus, is no different. Following the trend of his last two lustrous records, 808s & Heartbreak and My Dark Twisted Fantasy, West again transforms his sound and tests the limits of the genre (and popular music).

Rejecting the commercial corporate process by which music is put out, West promoted the album with guerrilla video projections of his song New Slaves across the world. He did not release any singles or music videos. The album artwork is almost non-existent (see above). But, all this plays into West’s attitude on Yeezus. He is fed up with the whole structure behind corporate run popular music. He does not want to make bland generic music like everyone else. It wants to challenge everything and reach for new aesthetic heights.

Yeezus does not sound like anything else in hip hop. It is a minimalist amalgamation of punk, new wave, dance hall, electronic, and hip hop all smashed together. It feels raw, and yet still features immaculate production. West has always been a great collaborator, and here he brings in veterans like Daft Punk and (frequent producing partner) Mike Dean as well as fresh artists like Arca and TNGHT. Rick Rubin served as the co-executive producer with West to get the overall sound just right. Sonically, the album is intense, vibrant, aggressive, and utterly compelling. West maintains his position ahead of the genre while everyone else lags behind perpetually trying to catch up. Musically alone, this is a magnificent album.

Lyrically, West again plays on similar themes to his last two albums. He is self-aggrandized and seems to have a guarded mistress of women, but his boasts come from a thinly veiled frail insecure place of sadness and doubt. He turns to fleeting moments of pleasure to escape the darkness that clouds his thoughts, stemming from failed relationships and racial inequality that West sees around him. West has no desire to make a commercially accessible album, and he blatantly attacks the establishment. He wants to air out his distrust and misgivings to instigate emotion in the listener and he also lets the listener into his soul to engage them emotionally as well. That is the appeal of West. He is not afraid to put it all out there, to connect with his fans on a deeper level.

West is at a place in which he could bring in any artist for a feature, but unlike My Dark Twisted Fantasy, Yeezus is very much from a singular voice (being West’s). Frank Ocean, Justin Vernon, Kid Cudi, Tony Williams, and Charlie Wilson show up to add supporting vocals, while Chief Keef and Travi$ Scott also bring some punch to the album. But only relatively unknown Chicago MC King L has a verse outside of West. In this way, West pays tribute to his city and troubled, gang-violent South Side neighborhood by including leading local voices Chief Keef and King L (because he can). It works well because West has essentially challenged what is possible sonically in hip hop. To have a bunch of recognizable voices clouding up the album would have diminished the overall power and freshness of the album.

Like each Kanye West album, Yeezus changes the game. It is vital, raw, incredibly ambitions, and just simply a work of an aesthetically brilliant artist (who knows the perfect collaborators to bring together to find the right sound). It is safe to say that this is one of the best and important albums of 2013, a must. 5/5  

Essential Tracks:
1)      New Slaves – Produced by Kanye West
2)      Bound 2 – Produced by Kanye West
3)      Black Skinhead – Produced by Kanye West and Daft Punk

Available on: Digital Download

No comments:

Post a Comment