Kanye West is a god… or so he declares. That being said, West will not allow anyone to outdo him and that includes his own newborn. Three days after the birth of his daughter, North West, he releases Yeezus. This is his sixth solo album following 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. West takes many forms throughout the album. He raps like truth in songs like New Slaves and Black Skinhead he plays preacher in an anti-abortion anthem, Blood on the Leaves, and there is the self explanatory proclamation, I am a God. West’s ego made this album but can it carry it?
The album leads with On Sight, the song begins almost trying to find its own sound. It’s more of a tease than a torture to listeners who still have to wait an extra few seconds before knowing what version of Kanye they are getting. West announces his return with the line “The monster’s about to come alive again” in a track of Daft Punk synths.
Yeezus continues with a threesome of tracks that have held majority of the media’s attention during the album’s release. First is Black Skinhead which some may have unknowingly heard being used in a trailer for Martin Scorcese’s new film, Wolf on Wall Street. The infectious drum beat starts the song with West rapping about jungle fever. Possibly drawing from his real life relationships, he speaks on the troubles of a black man dating a white woman. The third track in this the trio is New Slaves. It was the first song to be released therefore garnering most of the built up attention of people. He begins talking about the old slaves, those who picked cottons in the field as he mentions. Then there is rich black man racism, the anti-superiority rant is filled with luxury name dropping and Adam Sandler references.Sandwiched between the two tracks is the infamous I am a God. The song is what is expected being very egotistical. West mentioned that the song was a diss to an unnamed fashion brand. The brand invited West to their show on the condition he would not attend any other. Angry Kanye then outlets that no one can tell him nothing in the most elaborate and over-the-top manner.
Other songs such as Guilt Trip and Hold my Liquor depict a more human West. He talks about his relationships with women in the past. The scattered beats of both songs make for a mess of a sound and it feels right that it was made by man with a mic in one hand and a bottle in the other.
Blood on the Leaves emphatically steals away the album. It does this so abruptly that it requires multiple listens to feel its full effect. About a minute in you are more of faced than greeted with horns and a bass that carry you throughout West’s lyrics.
It has been around seven months short of a decade since Kanye West played college dropout in his debut album. He has transformed himself in each album but does not forget to pick certain things up along the way. Yeezus does have the classic addicting hooks found in past West albums in songs like Bound 2. It also has absurd yet comedic lyrics with tracks like I’m in it. The one downside found in the album though is a glaring one. The album lays itself out to be too niche. It may fail those who come to listen to it with expectations of Kanye of old. It may lose new listeners not interested in the obnoxious lyrics and overly complex sound. Though it can be deemed near unlistenable to people, there will be a small few that praise the album’s genius. This writer finds himself among those small few.
Illustration from Mcveigh Designs