Kanye West ‘Yeezus’

Hi Guys – this will be a quick intro for a number of reasons, time management being only one of them!

This is the first album that I’ve chosen for a monthly album that I have not heard. I’ve actually not heard a track off it either. I ‘listened’ to the ‘track’ that was premiered on a wall projected for the masses. I couldn’t really hear it or make it out so I thought fuck it, I’ll wait for the album and approach untainted. I’ve not even read the Pitchfork 9.5/10 review (highest this year suggesting this is 2013’s album of the Year-to-Date).

So why have I chosen it? Cause you’ve pretty much got to keep in with Kanye don’t you. For me, it is a love/hate relationship. I’ve been listening to loads of Kanye recently. Loads! and I’ve strengthened my position on him, ‘great producer, not a consistent rapper’. I actually like his (lazy) style … but during the course of his albums I think his writing has gone backwards. He has killer lines, absolutely killer … but he can’t maintain songs or even verses that make sense in their entirety anymore. Is GoldDigger the last track that made sense lyrically from start to finish?

Also we have the ‘tit’ factor. He does seem to be a bit of a tit doesn’t he? … he can’t seem to bite his tongue. He needs someone sitting over him and rapping his knuckles each time he totally contradicts himself or simply says something stupid.

Dark Fantasy was his worst selling album, in my opinion was his best production and possibly his worst lyrics. What will Yeezus be? I literally have no idea but am looking fwd to finding out.

PS – I’ve not even heard the track I’m posting here!

28 comments

  1. David Allison

    He’s always worth listening to. Having said that, I don’t think he’s made a great album in a LONG time. Just arrived today, Joey, so looking forward to it…

  2. misterstory

    Hmmmm. I have an opinion. I have only listened to this a couple of times … but I am pretty sure that I hate it. I fear this made be the sound of Kanye disappearing up his own arse. Some of it is unlistenable. Some of it is stupid. There are some absolutely headbangingly bad lyrics. He seems to have asked P Diddy if he can borrow his ‘style’. Also, I really dislike him when he is angry. He sounds like a really nasty person to be around! I am getting too old for this shit.

  3. whyohwhyohwhy

    I’m interested to have this to listen to. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with him over the years. I thought The College Dropout and Graduation were fantastic but for me it’s been downhill from there. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got to be applauded for not taking the safe route, and amongst them he’s made some great music, but I realise that I’m also no longer his target audience. I think that modern hip hop for many of the artists I liked 5 years or more ago has just gone horribly wrong for me. Electronic nonsense, saw-toothed synths, Guetta-influenced nonsense and auto-tuned lyrics. And don’t even get me into his tweets, awards shows performances and wife.

    But… but… he’s nothing if not interesting and has an incredible lack of boundaries, willing to harp on and put his foot in it, and there’s something endearing about that. And musically, even if I don’t like all of it, he’s got to be commended for going down routes that’ll shed fans.

    So, I’m intrigued, even if I’m not sure it’ll be for me.

  4. whyohwhyohwhy

    Well, I’ve got through this once today and twice last week, and my I’m really not sure what to make of it. On the face of it, it’s an absolute mess. It’s loud, brash, the “melodies” are really synth squelches and brash stabs a la Guetta, and his lyrics aren’t much better. I think I always worried about kanye after he attainted the level of fame he did, because when he did Graduation and The College Dropout it was all about him being an outsider and dealing with fame, but now he’s been one of the biggest stars on the planet for a good 5 or 6 years, how does he reconcile that with talking about loving Versace and bitches and his Range Rover when he’s actually that man? It’s the same with rock bands. When you’re no longer a small town boy and playing to stadia, how do those lyrics really resonate? They don’t, mostly (though The Boss seems to have always managed to get past this).

    On first listen I do find myself harking back for the melodies and subtlety of his early work. It’s not all wham bam here, but the general feel of the tracks is so in your face and loud and brash that it’s just all up up up and even the one that have darker edges seem to lose their impact as the good lyrics are drowned in electronics. Some of the titles and themes aren’t really that great either. I’m uncomfortable as a white man with New Slaves, so god knows what someone like Spike Lee will make of it. There’s just too much talk – however frank, and I love his frankness – about being drunk or crashing your Range Rover and being with Bitches and fucking them and it just seems a bit jaded. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe after 3 or 4 listens it’ll start to strip away that noise and the undercurrents will come through. I don’t know.

    But I can’t help listening to it and thinking it’s the sound of someone losing their marbles. Which means it either is, and he’s heading over the abyss and fame’s finally buried him (Kim Kardashian ffs!) or it’s all affected, and he’s trying to alienate fans, and trying to make unappealing, bleak rap, which is a commendable and brave career move, but either way I’m not sure it’s what I’d want to listen to.

    But hey, it’s early days!

  5. misterstory

    PS – I am a bit down on music at the moment. Nothing seems to be flicking my switch any more …. nothing new anyway. However, i do have an album of the month on heavy rotation – Frank Ocean is really doing it for me at the moment. Was it an Album of the Month?

  6. nolankane706

    I too hated this album on first listen.. there is no easy way to say it. With that I also thought that I needed to give it some time and am glad I did. First of all this isn’t his best album…. it may be his second to worst. With that it does get better with time and isn’t a bad effort compaired to many albums that have been released as of late.

    The main issue that I have is that his last album he did was musically the best hip hop album of the last 10 years in my opinion and Watch The Throne may be in my top 10 of all time hip hop classics when the dust settles. So how did he take such a big step back?

    The album structure is a bit all over the shop and the songs are often lacking. It would be easy for me to blame fame. I pray he perhaps is in a rut and this won’t happen again.

    I’m not going to go on about the songs that ditract the album from a possitive light; basically I can’t be bothered. Instead lets look at the highlights; New Slaves, Black Skin head and my stand out Bound 2. Kanye also come through with some classic punch lines through out the album that made me smile; but not enough.

    Every artist has a bad album or two. Is this worth a bit of time? Yes. Has he a made a couple really good songs? Yes. Over all is this one of his worst albums? Yes.

  7. David Allison

    Wow. I’d missed the debate on here – cos the bloody site doesn’t tell me until I’ve posted on something. And I couldn’t feel more different about this album. I ABSOLUTELY FUCKING LOVE IT. It’s my favourite Kanye album since Late Graduation.

    However, I’ve struggled to work out what I feel about it or why I love it, or indeed what the hell he’s on about most of the time. Let’s clear a few things up. Lyrically, it’s all over the place. It’s a mess. But ONLY lyrically. Musically, it’s the tightest thing he’s done in YEARS. It flows seamlessly from song to song; the samples are brilliant and properly eclectic. It feels like an ALBUM. Oh, and joy of joys, it’s a nice compact album length, not a 90 minute mess with a load of REALLY ANNOYING skits padding it out. It hasn’t got loads of lazy guest artists sleepwalking their way through their half-arsed verse they wrote in the back of cab. And he hasn’t killed the whole thing with autotune (though sure, it does a play a part). What’s not to love?

    And then I read this astonishing piece by Questlove on the back of the Trayvon Martin debacle. It’s an incredible piece of writing: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/07/questlove-trayvon-martin-and-i-aint-shit.html
    And what strikes you about is how Questlove is saying he’ll never escape his race, not by virtue of being comparatively wealthy or famous, not ever. That is the great stain on America’s soul. And then I played this album again just afterwards, just by sheer accident. And it hit me: this is a cry in the dark, this is a frustrated, angry man – angry at wealth and status, with himself – and certainly with what it is to be a black man in that situation. It’s not explicit, it’s not like he’s just gone and written Living For The City or something, but it’s there, it’s all there. And without knowing half the lyrics, without even examining them closely, I feel like this album’s just another chapter of West trying to grapple with all that shit. You might feel he’s failed or succeeded to do that, but by god, he’s trying. I also just love it, musically. Great scope. One minute it’s Discovery era Daft Punk-esque, then it’s like a rap Lynard Skynard, then he goes all Guetta at the end of a horrible ketamine trip. It’s thrilling.

    So far me, this is a statement album by a guy out on his own doing his own thing. For better or worse, you can’t really ask any more of an artist like Kanye. Thanks for recommending this Joey, it’s been such a pleasure to add it to my record collection.

  8. David Allison

    Oh, one other thing. Is he really celebrating the casual sex and money and status of fame, or does he sound bored and angry and pissed off with himself? Surely it’s the latter.

  9. misterstory

    Ok. Things i like about this album (i) the design of the ‘cover’ (ii) the lack of skits (iii) no lists of featured artists on each track fucking up the ‘album by artist’ search in itunes.

    Things I hate about this (i) everything else

    I think most of it is appalling. I am angry that it makes me so angry that he is so angry.

    The lyrics are terrible. His rapping ‘style’ is … well, what is it? Talking, ranting (in a bad way). I. Dont. Like. This. Bllluuuuurrrrggghhhhhhhh

    Not read the Questlove article yet but I will.

    How can a rap album, if thats what this is be taken seriously with such atrocious lyrics.

    I think I would go as far as saying this offends me.

    • whyohwhyohwhy

      David, I fully get your angle here. I definitely think he’s almost arguing with himself here, the conflict of the successful black artist, whether he’s lost his roots, if he’s happy “being Kanye”.

      But my god the music is pretty dreadful imo. Anything that apes Guetta can do one, and while I see the Daft Punk comparison, it’s a pretty lazy tribute.

      I am liking how much debate this is causing though. I want to like it because it’s Kanye, but I just think “wow, The College Dropout dicks on this.”

  10. David Allison

    Gosh, I’m REALLY enjoying our differences on this.
    Funnily enough, Joey and Guy, I do honestly see where you’re coming from. It’s a lyrical mess. It’s all over the place. And that can either seem incoherent or like a fucking crazy riot. At the moment, I’m feeling it. Be interesting to know if it’s something that stays with me for more than a month. Will keep you posted.

    In other news, Goldfrapp at MIF last night, complete with 20 piece string orchestra and choir was probably one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen in my life!

  11. nolankane706

    I’m still in a funny place about this a few weeks on. The Daft punk refferences are allowed as they co-produced two of the songs on the album I believe.

    I think David has a valid point…. is Kanye pissed off at himself. I think he’s a bit lost. The buy can make a beat but has let himself down on a lyrical front.

    Sadly I don’t agree that the album flows. I think 80% of it does and then there are a few massive speed bumps.

    This as stated before, in the spectrum this isn’t a bad album… for Kanye it is.

  12. misterstory

    I don’t buy any of this offering up of excuses for Kanye. Frustrated. Black. Successful. Whatever. A poor album is a poor album boo hoo if you’re a billionaire and nobody likes you any more. Your fault.

    I think racially related discussion as to the motivations behind this album are only relevant if you consider, socially, where he came from on his first album (and the comparison surely has to be detrimental?). To quote an Eminem lyric (no – but really) ‘I never grew up, I was born grown and grew down’. Kanye’s College Drop Out had tracks like ‘All fall down, / ‘Jesus Walks’ / ‘Crack Music’. He started off producing massively well constructed and meaningful tracks … socially, racially and politically important which were lyrically powerful (+ some bangers of course too like Slow Jamz) … and he has deteriorated into this …. shite. Most people go the other way. Most people use their influence positively. Most people bring more to the table.

    I find myself trying not to say ‘Kanye, stop it, you should know better’. And do you know what, that’s my review.

  13. whyohwhyohwhy

    Brother Joseph, righteous anger is a good emotion, but only for a while obviously.

    I’m kind of 100% the same with you on this. Just not as angry maybe. I’m going to give it another crack, but usually even albums I’ve thought were ok or not great that have later started really growing on me (this Daft Punk new album is a great example, I was really underwhelmed but by listens 3 and 4 it was growing and I love it now, even if it’s not their best work) have started to resonate by now. I’ve had 4 goes at Yeezus and it’s just not for me I think. One last go though, for the blog.

    Seriously though, I think it’s an absolute mess, lyrically and musically. I think a lot of this goes down for me thinking the ‘melody’ or samples or hooks are just the sort of electronic music I hate, which makes it hard for me to listen to it on an even footing really.

  14. misterstory

    I’m ok. I’m over it. However, I just won’t be listening to it. Life’s to short and my music listening time is really limited so I’ve decided not to bother.

  15. David Allison

    Wow. Guess I’m the last man standing on this one. Still REALLY enjoying it. And really, I do get where you’re coming from. But I still think he’s 200 times more interesting than most of the competition.

    • nolankane706

      Joey, I think your responce sums it up perfectly… it’s about one step from chucking the mic down and walking off the stage rapper stylee!

      David, I’m not really sure where you’re coming from. I can name at least 5 hip hop albums that have been way better than this tus far in 2013. With that I do still think there are some really good tracks on here. Just not as good as I expected it to be.

  16. David Allison

    OK, I’m not giving up on this. Let’s take Black Skinhead as an example, which I think is one of the strongest cuts on the record. Seriously, you guys not digging the crazy almost glam rock-esque rhythm. And what about the lyrics?
    http://rapgenius.com/Kanye-west-black-skinhead-lyrics
    What’s so bad about these? I think they touch on exactly some of stuff I was talking about – how he can’t escape his race, how he can’t work out if he wants to be a representative or just get away from it all? And that touch of paranoia and anger (“Four in the morning, and I’m zoning, they say I’m possessed, it’s an omen”).

    “Pardon me, I’m getting my scream on.” He really is, but isn’t that a pretty exciting thing?

  17. misterstory

    Yep. Great production. Lyrics are good too … but he’s shouting them … and not in a good way. I just think ‘what a waste of a great track’. Would this track be better without Kanye pissing about on top of it? I think ‘yes’. Discuss.

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