By now you’ve heard all the hype and have probably made a decision about Kanye West himself and thought that there is nowhere this guy could possibly go in his career anymore. Well you, like me, were wrong. ‘Yeezus’, for all its self-interested and self-congratulatory bullshit, is in a word – Brilliant. Brilliant because it challenges norms of modern hip-hop. Brilliant because it reinvents a broke…n record formula. Brilliant because it’s like nothing hip-hop has heard in its whole existence.
Now I have your attention, here are the reasons. From the moment you turn on the album you need to be seated and prepare to invest energy into listening to it from start to finish. I am used to putting on a hip-hop album and sitting there head-nodding away checking the sly references and chuckling at the sweet verbosity and tight wordplay. DON’T’ DO THIS WITH ‘YEEZUS’. Expect to be assaulted sonically from the start to the end of this release. I think it’s hard to have any other thought about this release except “What the fuck?!” from beginning to end. And for this reviewer, that’s not a bad thing at all. Forget all your previous thoughts about hip-hop because ‘Yeezus’ is the powerhouse the industry needed to kick start discussions. People will be analyzing this release for years to come and in it, they will discuss the sheer divisive nature of the record. Maybe even in universities. Yep, you heard right; universities.
I wish that Daft Punk’s album has as much intensity to it as Daft Punk’s input into ‘Yeezus’ has. From the outset, DP has produced four songs across the album. From the moment you hear ‘On Sight’, the influence of electro on this album is palpable. I read the reviews and I’ve seen the hype, but with ‘Yeezus’ I think a lot of them are too jaded to see the truth of it. In truth, ‘Yeezus’ is West’s attempt to leave some sort of legacy. How much does the average artist wish they could influence the industry and a genre? With a passion, that’s what. And West pulls it off with this one. I think the screams, the intensity and the sonic assault are everything we needed in hop-hop right now. I just finished listening to A$ap Rocky’s inaugural release and oh my god, Kanye takes the biggest musical dump right on the album’s face and then laughs at the brownish of it.
Aside from the obvious original beats in it, ‘Yeezus’ takes advantage of two particularly influential samples for different reasons. ‘Black Skinhead’ uses iconic societal antithesis artist Marilyn Manson’s Beautiful People to great effect. The intensity (a word I will use over and over in this review) is so hard to deal with it keeps you listening to what confrontational lyrics West will drop next. Another brilliant sample is the sped up use of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’ on the track ‘Blood on the Leaves’. Surely a less sonically brutal track, but in its complexity leaves the listener reeling from what would normally been a pretty average sampling track. There is a huge intelligence and self-deprecating appreciation to be had in ‘Yeezus’, and I want to say this is the biggest piece of trash you will hear this year. But its not, and I would say this would be ‘sadly’; but I can’t. Whether you get it or not, ‘Yeezus’ has the potential to be the absolute album of the year.
I get that people will say “Oh but AA, you only review hip-hop and electronic music…” but outside of this SSMB blog, I have tastes and interests in all styles of music. I may have specialized, but if you don’t listen to this album before laying it out; you can’t call yourself a music fan of *any* genre.
There is so much to say about this release. The misogyny, the stupidity, the disrespect and the length (short); but all I can think of is how much energy I have left after listening to it the first time – let alone the second and third… if you are even slightly interested in the hype – hip-hop fan or not – listen to this and tell me I have missed the mark. Compare it to every hip-hop release you’ve heard from West and indeed, for any “in the charts” rapper and maintain the attitude that it’s a piece of shit. I’ll tell you’ve missed the point of the album and indeed you missed the point of progressive music in general. I’m sure you will either do it to spite me (haha) or concede there is something behind this album which will make you a true lover or hater of West’s last hurrah before becoming a man more focused on his celebrity baby than a boundary pushing artist. I could go on…just listen to it before commenting…
9/10 Self-Aggrandising Genius’