Album Review

Kanye West - Yeezus

Released June 18, 2013
Amy Sand
On his 2010 track, "Runaway” Kayne West sings, "Let's have a toast for the douchebags, let's have a toast for the Assholes," a response to his famous, "I’m-a let you finish" tif with Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Music Awards. Three years later, his self-acceptance has turned into self-promotion. The naked new classic, “New Slaves,” a tune focused on oppression via consumerism, or a lack thereof, boasts “There’s leaders and there’s followers, but I’d rather be a dick than a swallower There's no need for Ye to explain, as he clearly leads all those around him. Are you getting the Yeezus reference yet? This sentiment is felt throughout. In an era where political correctness has driven many to silence, Mr. West opens his mouth and screams - both metaphorically (racism/isolation), and literally in "I am a God."

And while all this comparison to Jesus could seem like self-inflation, it feels more like a reaction to his fame. When Kanye raps, “Hurry up with my damn croissants” on "I am a God", the audience's reaction is not an eye roll, but a smirk. If he must wear the crown of thorns that we the people have laid upon him, he might as well find a matching throne. The song turns to horror film, with screams filling the entire end, invoking the image of a man turning into a monster. Of course, Ye is way ahead of us on this concept. On the opening track “On Sight ", he spits “A monster about to come alive again" with the chorus girls sweetly echoing, "He'll give us what we need, it may not be what we want." Perhaps Kanye is trying to tell us the difference between god and monster is the amount of shadow cast on him.

The album comes off like a rocket, taking hip hop to a new planet. Yeezus is easily his darkest, angriest and most precise album. Ye will never win an award for vocals, but his flare for dramatics more than makes up for it. “Black Skin Head” is the most emotional tune, filled with heavy breathing and a killer beat - a track that many newly-licensed drivers will surely crank up in their father’s beat-up Chevy. It’s hard to find weak points here. The fact that "Guilt Trip" could be a part of 808s and Heartbreaks makes it the most outdated and least memorable. At first listen, “Hold My Liquor,” appears to be yet another rap tune glorifying hangovers. But the layers are endless, and it’s a perfect sample of the genius mid-song tone switch. It’s really about a guy testing his relationship, “Soulmates become soulless,” and how far he has to go to break their love. The result is a haunting morning after: the setting of an emotional walk of shame. The heart of the story is loneliness, and when Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver) closes the song “I heard you need a new phone,” you feel the situation is far more dire than the need for the latest iPhone. The album ends with "Bound 2" a classic example of Ye’s narrative ability, in which he drops vivid images with ease "Red cups all on the lawn shit." In comparison to the rest of the album, “Bound 2” feels at times like a happy flashback. But when the sadness overtakes the song, "Tired of loving with nobody to love," you can't help but feel he's talking about himself.

This deliverance of a sixth solo album is more than solid: his production and focus have never been so tight. While his last effort, Dark Fantasy, was a new world, Yeezus is a heightened, terrifying reality. It just goes to show, if it takes being one helluva of dick to have production this beautiful, we ain’t mad at it.