Unsurprisingly, Kanye didn't stick to his word of only making Christian inspired music, but that's fine by me. I hate the autotune, depressive, mumbling rapping of so many trap rappers and there is too much of it here. I just finished lamenting about some of the featuring artists on Usher's new album, and it's the same story here. Why can't all features sound like Freddie Gibbs does on 'Back to Me'? One of the most memorable things about Kanye's first albums were the exceptional features: Lupe, Nas, Freeway, The Game, Ludacris, Common, Mos Def, Talib, etc.
Kanye is so much more of a personality and presence than Ty Dolla $ign, and he should stick to solo albums. It feels like Ty is a feature and not a fellow collaborating artist. Anyone could replace him and the album would be the same, but replace Kanye and it's a completely different album. Despite what the SJW critics and reviewers say, who obviously had their opinion about this well before it dropped, Kanye is still an entertaining rapper and rarely raps the same way from one song to the next adding to the engagement.
To sum this up before I comment on each track, the production is mostly bangin' and it has some originality. I have sometimes found Kanye's beats to be overproduced, or the use of repetitive samples annoying, but I don't think any of that can be said here. The features are too often poor. The best songs are great but aren't amazing and there are a few songs to skip. There are a number of moments I don't like throughout songs, but as whole songs, there is normally something positive that surpasses the flaws. It kind of depends if you look at things as the glass being half full or half empty which is why it has taken me some time to decide on a rating. Even on 'Talking', after North West's cringe opening verse, the song isn't terrible as a whole thanks to the thumping bass and what the song does in the second half of it.
Best Tracks: Stars, Paid, Back to Me, Hoodrat, King
The choir themed opener is really good but why is this less than 2 minutes?! This has the potential to be something special. It feels like a wasted opportunity to go beyond being really good. It also needs to be mixed better or something. It's beautiful but sounds dirty that doesn't do the sounds justice.
2. Keys to My Life
It sounds like aspects of West's and Game's 'Eazy' were used on this and other songs too. The Ty vocals of the song bring this down - "Wasn't it always this way?/Wasn't it always this way?' reminds me of something Homer sings in a Simpsons episode, and I can't take it seriously. The production is enjoyable, but like most songs here, there is a 'but' to liking one aspect of it.
"Old stomach is the new ass". The catchy and bangin' hook elevates the song from the verses that aren't spat in the most enjoyable manner. My favourite song from the album.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, young kids of rappers shouldn't be spitting verses. North West - "It's your bestie, Miss, Miss Westie/Don't tryna test me/It's gonna get messy." To be fair, it's not much worse than some adults' lyrics, but it's still best to be avoided. Nevertheless, it's still one of the weaker songs even discounting North's verse.
5. Back to Me
The idea for this song comes from the quote from the film 'Dogma' - "Beautiful, naked, big-titty women just don't fall out the sky, you know?" Kanye's verse is perhaps too repetitive, but Freddie Gibbs comes in for the final verse and kills it. More bangin' production and one of the best songs.
Bangin' production once again. I don't enjoy the Kanye singing vocals as much as the beat though, but it's still a cohesive song.
7. Do It
This basically turns into Juvenile's classic 'Back That Azz Up'. YG though isn't my pick of rappers.
It sounds like something from Yeezus. This one drags on for me and it would be better without the features.
More radio-friendly and poppy than anything else here. I liked this more on the initial listens than I do now. I'm surprised it's the highest rating song as it is the least unique sounding song.
10. Fuk Sumn
Really good production. Shit rapping from Playboi Carti & Travis Scott and content. After a fairly good and consistent first 9 songs, the quality falls away here.
The first verse is atrocious. Open your damn mouth when you are rapping...FFS! A note on the criticism this song got - Kanye was rapping worse verses on some of his acclaimed albums but now that the world is against him, everything he does is trash to some. The line everyone is so hilariously offended by is a way he has found some humour in amongst the shit storm. The last quarter of the song is the strongest. It's a shame more isn't done with the instrumentation change though. Another missed opportunity. Basically the two worst songs were chosen as singles with this and 'Talking'.
Give me the instrumental version. Rich The Kid & Playboi Carti. No thanks. Kanye's verse is fine. I don't like the lyrics on the hook either.
13. Beg Forgiveness
Damn. That's actually Chris Brown at the start of the album? This one just takes way too long to get going but it does finish well.
14. Good (Don't Die)
Now removed from the album for what I assume is a sample clearance issue. This features an interpolation of 'I Feel Love' by Donna Summer. Another missed opportunity in my opinion. A little more could have been added to increase the variety to the song as it progresses to elevate it. Again though, there is still a lot to like about it.
I feel like thumping drums kicking in about halfway through would've improved this. There are some great production touches but it starts how it ends.
The second-best song. Hyped as. I think it samples one of my favourite hip hop songs, 'Down with the King', by RUN-DMC.