Brought to you by popular demand (a.k.a one person put in a request), I present my song-by-song review of Kanye West’s most recent album release, Yeezus. The title rivals the name of his newborn child (North West) in dickiness, but at this point I don’t expect anything less from Kanye. He has channeled his ego into his lifestyle and his music for some time now. Whether it has been for better or worse is not where I care to take this conversation. I’m just going to jump right into the songs. I’ve posted the album in full below, so it is available for your listening (dis)pleasure.
1. On Sight – When the loud, uncontrolled electronic buzzing starts the album off, you wonder where the hell it’s all going. Once it focuses into a repetitive but head-bobbing Daft Punk beat, you can feel the presence of a club banger. The inclusion of a church choir sample mid-song lets the world know that Mr. West does not give a fuck what the rest of the world thinks about this album. He made the music for him, which would feel more genuine and cool if it wasn’t coming out of Kanye’s mouth. Notable lyric: “One last announcement/No sports bra let’s keep it bouncin'”.
2. Black Skinhead – The rhythmic breathing underneath the beat and crashing toms and cymbals keep the track intense, but I don’t feel it nearly as much in ‘Ye’s vocals. His continual exasperated yellings of “God” at the end of the song pump up the intensity, but mostly as a build-up into the next song. I am personally hung up by the historically inaccurate lyric, “I keep it 300, like the Romans”. While the surrounding rhymes are good, it still stands that the Battle of Thermopylae took place between the Persians and 300 Spartans, who were a part of the GREEK empire at the time. Sorry I’m not sorry.
3. I Am A God – It’s REALLY dicky that GOD is featured on this song and NO ONE else gets credited for their vocal work on the album’s track names. The only hinting of God on the track is a deep voice that says “I am a God”, but Kanye says that too. The beat is another gem with Daft Punk producing credits, and I like how ‘Ye’s lyrics flow on this one. He backs up his grandiose statements of being a God of music. Some people may be freaking out that he’s saying this now, but he’s said it before. This is just the most explicit it’s ever been.
4. New Slaves – A Travis Scott-produced beat gives more of a Hip-Hop feel to the track. Yeezy’s lyrics blatantly address racism and how he is above corporate control. There are too many good bars to quote for this one. Combine these lyrics with intense delivery and a more soulful breakdown featuring autotuned West and Frank Ocean at the end of the song, and you have one of the more listener-friendly tracks on the album, in my opinion.
5. Hold My Liquor – If you’re a fan of Chief Keef, you are pretty much obligated to love this song. He takes over for the chorus, with lyrics that are still grandiose for me but relatable enough: “I can’t handle no liquor/but these bitches can’t handle me”. I’m a fan of the electric sliding guitar used as well (reminds me of Ratatat + CuDi). Kanye’s verse chugs/flows along nicely, but it is forgettable.
6. I’m In It – This is essentially a darker version of “Blame Game” from Twisted Fantasy, at least lyrically. The layers of Kanye’s normal voice on top of a deep voice in the first verse bring similarities to mind as well. Justin Vernon’s unique vocal sound has been spiced throughout the album until this point, and now he kills the chorus with the perfect combination of sexines and eeriness (if that can be a thing).
7. Blood On The Leaves – This song boils down to two samples and Kanye’s autotune. His vocals go well with the deep horns sample that really get this tune bumping, but the “Strange Fruit” sample is too high and sounds weird in parts. It works best when the song is at its slowest points, not when the horns are blaring.
8. Guilt Trip – I’ll be DAMNED if that building techno sound in the verses isn’t sampled from a Zelda game. The uber deep vocals on this track are unappealing to me as I can’t tell what is even being said. KiD CuDi’s mini-hook towards the end hardly makes up for it . Notable lyric: “Star Wars fur, I’m rockin’ Chewbacca”.
9. Send It Up – Another banger with sweeping sirens and a feature by relatively unknown King Louie a.k.a King L. Gotta rep Chitown I guess.
10. Bound 2 – Interesting sample to rap over in the verses, and then a totally different sample is dropped for the chorus unrelated performed by God-knows-who. There are good bars in this one too, but at this point the album is losing its luster.
It is obvious that this album is not for everyone. Most people I talk to hate it, but I genuinely enjoy a handful of the songs. I’ll admit that my love for Kanye’s music and the experience of an entire album are what help me cling on to the idea that this album is great, and I bet many others are caught in this same illusion as well. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re as successful as Kanye West. You get to that point where you can make your “experimental” project and people will still listen.
I’m very interested to hear other people’s thoughts on Yeezus and his decision to take his music in such a direction. Comment on here or wherever I post this. And congratulations to those who managed to get through the full post. Maybe I’ll buy you a cookie sometime.