Sunday, 16 June 2013

Yeezus - Kanye West

That's right! I speak of the man himself. Kanye West's seventh album was leaked this weekend onto the internet, where thousands of drooling fans awaited to snap it up and have already reverently branded it one of his best yet.

I realise I sound a little bitter and sarcastic, but honestly... the album's pretty great. I hate being predictable. ESPECIALLY when the album basically consists of Kanye's ego growing far too big for his head and therefore exploding out of his mouth. 'I am a God', he states matter-of-factly on a song titled those exact same words. I maintain that Beyonce is the only one who is allowed to tell bitches to bow down, whereas Kanye should take some time to snack on some humble pie, and perhaps massage Kim's ankles a bit in preparation for fatherhood.

Nice crown, buddy
As reluctant as I am to warm to Kanye as a person, I do have to admit that I warmed very quickly to Yeezus. By 'warmed to', I do not mean in a nice, fluffy 'oooh, dulcet tones' sort of way... This album is not what you'd describe as sweet or beautiful, but more like something very intense, aggressive and mildly uncomfortable. It's not my favourite album of his, having a personal preference for the more tuneful tracks on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy ('Devil In A New Dress' in particular) or his earlier The College Dropout (Ahh, 'All Falls Down'. I never ever tire of it.) Nevertheless, swapping melodic vocal samples for abrasive synths definitely suits the darker, more crude subject content of Yeezus, especially on the bassiest, sharpest, coarsest songs like 'I'm In It' and 'New Slaves'. They are interesting tracks as a result, and it's always good to hear something different and fearless. ('What is this 'fear' you speak of?' queries the self-proclaimed 'God'...)

Well actually, I say 'interesting', but I'm not sure why people are dwelling quite so much on the lyrics to 'I'm In It', which I'm tempted to see less as a profound critique of racial stereotypes and prejudice towards women, and more as... well, porn. His racist lines of 'Eatin' Asian pussy, all I need was sweet and sour sauce' and 'black girl sipping white wine, Put my fist into her like a civil rights sign' just add to the 100% penis-driven feel of this song. To me, it seems less like he's pointedly trying to comment on deep-rooted racist attitudes and more like he's deliberately disregarding them in favour of the shock factor of a completely dirt and lust driven song. Conveniently, that gets taken either way, depending on the listener.

A track that I find particularly fearless while also very confusing is 'Blood On The Leaves', which I enjoyed on first listen despite the fact that I usually harbour an irrational hatred of auto-tune. I liked what he did with the Nina Simone sample, musically speaking, which is a relief since I almost hated him forever when he ruined Bon Iver's 'Woods' for me with 'Lost In The World'. However, I struggled to understand why he employed such a shocking, racially charged song as 'Strange Fruit', which speaks about 'Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze', in a song that talks about unwelcomed pregnancy... 

My favourite song by a LONG way on this album is definitely 'Bound 2', which fuses soulful gospel samples with an incredibly catchy electronic/dance chorus. I found myself determined to incorporate 'uh huh honey' into every day conversation, it's the coolest little vocal sample of any track on the album. Well done Kanye, saved the best 'til last.
Right, I realise this is a very patchy review of an album that is undoubtedly going to be HUGE this summer and I will probably end up adding to it as I get more listens in. I also feel like there's probably a lot more to this album than I've picked up on after first listen and I can't wait to have it on repeat for the next week!
Now go go go, spread the news to all your hipster friends. Yeezus walks!

(I've had to change it now as it was taken down, but I think should know that I took the original link off Justin Bieber's YouTube... which is mildly hilarious.)

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