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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

Kanye West - Yeezus Review [3]
Posted by Tony Acero on 06.19.2013

1. On Sight (Produced by Daft Punk) [Malik Yusef, Rhymefest]
2. Black Skinhead (Produced by Daft Punk) [CyHi The Prynce, Lupe Fiasco, Malik Yusef]
3. I Am A God (Featuring God) (Produced by Daft Punk) [Hudson Mohawke, Justin Vernon, Malik Yusef, Rhymefest]
4. New Slaves (Featuring Frank Ocean) (Malik Yusef, Rhymefest)
5. Hold My Liquor (Feat. Chief Keef & Justin Vernon) [Alejandro Ghersi, Malik Yusef, Rhymefest]
6. Im In It (Feat. Travis Scott) [Justin Vernon, Malik Yusef]
7. Blood On The Leaves [Hudson Mohawke, Tony Williams]
8. Guilt Trip (Feat. Kid Cudi) (Produced by S1)
9. Send It Up (Feat. King L) [Alejandro Ghersi, Daft Punk, Gesaffelstein]
10. Bound 2 (Feat. Charlie Wilson) [John Legend]

Kanye West is a name that has the world divided. On one hand, there are people that find his braggadocious attitude deplorable and simple cannot stand the man. On the other hand, there are those that consider him a musical genius and fall in line with his self-congratulatory attitude. By this time, the opinion has most likely been settled in your mind, and his new album Yeezus will most likely do nothing in the way of conversion. With Yeezus, Kanye continues to experiment with different venues of music and in some aspects he succeeds, while others fall particularly flat. But as a whole, does the album stand on its own, or is it suffering from too boisterous of an album? Let's find out.

We start off with Daft Punk produced "On Sight" that serves as both an introduction to the album as well as a proclamation of West's mindset throughout the entire thing. We have the braggadocios West spouting lyrics that are minimal at best, but the sound is very different and in a year that brought Daft Punk back to the forefront, it may very well be a bit more acceptable. For me, it was a bit too much, as one can only deal with the multi-layered laser-shot production for so long, especially when juxtaposed with rap.

The album gets back on a track it, arguably, never wanted to be on with the chant and walk-worthy track "Black Skinhead." It's exciting, invigorating, and hungry! The message is weaker than I think Kanye wanted it to be, and that falls in line with one of the bigger problems of the album. It truly lacks any type of brevity in its lyrics, even (especially?) when it appears that Kanye is trying, such as the track "I Am A God." A track that people took at face value as Kanye likening himself to God and running with it. I don't understand the backlash, considering it's Kanye West and it's almost expected. The song, however, is more of an introspective look within only to understand that perhaps he is great. It's a pat on the back from your left hand, an unsure applause, which really depicts Kanye's entire career. Still, with such heavy-handed philosophical interplay in oneself, it lacks a punch because of the attempt to hit all levels, lyrically and production-wise.

West does his best to make the listener uncomfortable, with interrupting bass lines and random key strokes of the production board. It's not a bad thing, persay, considering it hits the core of whichever song he attempting to influence. Take "I Am A God" for instance, where the jarring interruptions and random screaming is, essentially, West conflicting over the idea that he is "a god." He tries this again, in "New Slaves" where he takes the position of societal critic that he's done on more than one occasion. Again, however, his argument is as complex as the music that backs it. While he claims that "there's leaders and there's followers/ but I'd rather be a dick than a swallower," Kanye is perhaps one of the most braggadocios rappers out there. He is a fashionista and a man with flash, which is essentially, what he's attempting to argue against. In a sense, he's claiming it's ok if WE follow him, because there's no way in hell he is going to follow any of us. Where he goes wrong, though, is his attempt to seem like the voice of an entire race, and although I am not Black, I simply can't believe in him taking that role, especially considering his upbringing and lyrical content everywhere else.

The album takes a turn when "Hold My Liquor" brings back one of Kanye's old friends...auto-tune. West used auto-tune in brevity on his album 808's and Heartbreaks, and he used it surprisingly well. Noticeably, he uses it as an expression of emotion - namely sadness. Similarly, he does so here. The inclusion of Chief Keef does nothing for me, and although I didn't mind the track, it was the first one on a Side B I simply didn't enjoy. Immediately after, we get "I'm In It," a return to form of rap that didn't belong anywhere on this album, as he boasts about sex in some of the most uninteresting ways. "Guilt Trip" continues the 2013 auto-tune which doesn't work all that well and it bleeds into "Send it Up," making both tracks utterly forgettable.

The two tracks that stick out as the most emotional - that could possibly harken back the "ol West" would be "Blood on the Leaves" and "Bound 2," and while I can appreciate both tracks for what they are, there are a few issues I have with one of them. "Leaves" is a solid average track, but still feels like a leftover of 808's, as does much of the second half of the album. After a start that was so fresh that it perhaps confused listeners as to being so damned unsure as to just what the album was, Kanye goes off on a tangent and assures that those who didn't like 808's surely are not going to like Yeezus.

Kanye attempts to turn the album back around with the ode to Kim K in "Bound 2," and it's sweet enough, but stands as regular in comparison, and isn't strong enough to be a return to form for Kanye.

At the end of the day, the album encompasses what Kanye West is; an experimental and arrogant man who, when you look deep enough, is about as unsure about his success as he listeners are. That arrogance is a mask, and he has showed the face underneath on more than one occasion. In Watch the Throne, he displayed a level of arrogance unparalleled. In Yeezus, he is toned down and vulnerable, but is it a good album?

After repeat listens, I have settled on yes and no. It's a solid effort, and Daft Punk's touches, while jarring and unflattering upon first (and even second and third) listen, I beleive they really match up with the message Kanye is trying to portray, and your ears become attuned to it. The album falls a bit flat for me during the second half due to the return of auto-tune, and a few unnecessary and simply average lyrics and songs.

This album is sure to piss a lot of hip-hop heads off, but it's something I'm not sure I understand, considering our constant cry for change. Hip-hop is ever-evolving, and I'd go so far as to say that Kanye has had a hand in more than one of these changes. This album will either usher in a new introduction of EDM into hip-hop, or it will flutter away as a critical failure. For me, it's right in the middle. While I can appreciate Kanye's efforts, and I can really feel a few of these tracks, he only gave me ten tracks and about 45 minutes to appreciate what he had to offer, and half of it wasn't to my liking.

The 411: In Kanye's most recent efforts, he has a rare miss in his continued efforts of experimentation due to his callback to auto-tune and a less than stellar lyrical content. Upon first listen, the album slaps you in the face with no recoil, but after a few more, that same hand seems to sooth the wound in an attempt to let you know that it's all going to be ok, he was just a little angry.
Final Score:  6.5   [ Average ]  legend


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