Article by Andrés Alvarado
As polarizing a character as Kanye West can and will be, we, as a society, should admit our willingness to be sucked in by his genius – for better or worse. It has been a surreal turn of luck lately for West. From his incendiary commentary on the “choices” within slavery and his love for current President of the United States and dragon-energy bro, Donald Trump, West has created a divide from within his fan-base. No, not the typical separation that sprouts from agreeing or not with whatever crazy thought popped into Yeezus’ head, but a far more deep-rooted segregation within our very notions of good and evil. Inside each of our minds we must ask ourselves if we can put aside this man’s far-fetched ideology and backwards operating narcissism, and simply focus on the art that makes up Ye, the album. Are the feels that Late Registration and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy bestowed upon us enough to carry our attention moving forward from this debacle? Well, I’m writing this review, and you are reading it. I guess that answers that.
Onto the subject matter, Ye, the album. At first listen, the record is wonky by most standards. The melody is riveting, tight, and playful at times, then again, this specific aspect has always been a Kanye staple of excellence. However, once you delve in a little deeper, it’s the lyricism that either grips or loses you. Kanye is wounded, or not, or yes he is, but he is okay. This is a man that is subjectively aware of a mental predicament, and decided to take a glass half-full approach, or not. Our guess is Kanye West intended Ye to be a serious beautiful dark twisted record and instead ended up playing damage control to a situation that spiraled out of his control; that’s apart from its lack of radio-friendly smash anthems or clocking in at a slender 23 minutes long.
Opener “I Thought About Killing You” is a cynical backhanded insight into the ruts of love and mental illness. Slam poetry-esque, open, honest, and gloomy. “You’d only care enough to kill someone you love // The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest,” exclaims West. Setting a somber atmosphere, “I Though About Killing You” is just the tip of this emotional iceberg.
“Wouldn’t Leave” sees West’s vulnerability at the forefront. Looping back to his infamous “Slavery seems like a choice” utterance, Kanye addresses the backlash without offering the typical faux apology. Surprisingly or not, Mr. West took this opportunity to channel his insensitive ignorance into an ode for Ms. Kim and her refusal to leave him during the dilapidation of their world. Nonetheless, thumper “All Mine” may undo all these sensitivities. Raps West “If I pull up with a Kerry Washington // That’s gonna be an enormous scandal // I could have Naomi Campbell // And still might want me a Stormy Daniels,” implying the quintessential male chauvinistic demeanor is still commonplace in the world of #MeToo, or simply just another oversight chalked-up to Kanye being Kanye.
Rounding out the latest release are the mid-paced triumphant vibes and the John Legend–Kid Cudi cameos of “Ghost Town,” the wavy flairs of 90s hip-hop and bipolar truth-isms within “Yikes,” Slick Rick-sampling “No Mistakes,” and the aggressively corny approach to fatherhood in “Violent Crimes.” Plus, a curious “did you know” fact that West captured the cover image of Ye just hours before its official release on an iPhone.
Overall, Ye is another volatile chapter in the book of Yeezus. It’s candid, despicable, attractive, disgusting, hurtful, and, at times, hopeful. Ye is not West’s best album, but it just might be his most genuine. That’s saying something about a man that’s made headlines historically on both his talents and his downfalls. Cheers!
Score: 6/10 — Key Tracks: “Yikes,” “Ghost Town,” and “No Mistakes.”