After loving Kanye's first three albums, he has failed to provide me with the same enjoyment since. That makes me one of the few who don't dig MBDTF very much, so I was hoping that Yeezus would be another subjectively great Kanye West release. It was interesting to see the promotion for this album compared to his last release. With Cruel Summer, about half of the tracks were released prior to the album dropping. With this new solo effort, all we had were live versions and short snippets. Not to mention the nonexistent cover art and only getting the track list a few days out from the official release date.
As Kanye has done with each album, the sound is once again different. Apart from 'New Slaves', 'I'm in It' and 'Bound 2'-the closest thing to previous Kanye productions-Kanye shares the head producing with others. Daft Punk play a part in the first three songs, while a host of other producers contribute their ideas throughout the album. It makes for a mixture of experimental/industrial hip hop, trap rap, house, and electronic music. As a side note, Daft Punk give Ye much more interesting beats here than the soft poppy stuff on their latest album in my opinion.
Checking out the songs.. 'On Sight' is okay at best. I don't like the production at all and Kanye doesn't help it lyrically. The next three songs are a vast improvement without being outstanding. On the braggadocious 'I Am a God' Kanye raps "Everybody know you brought real rap back", in case we forgot. The change up toward the end of the song here works and should've gone on for longer. While I love the 'New Slaves' beat (best on the album) I'm not sure about the beat change up three minutes in though. Similarly with 'On Sight as well, only this case it's basically smack bang in the middle of the song. I'm not saying I don't like them, but do they work? I'm not sure. They don't connect together sonically at all. I dreaded Chief Keef being on this when I saw him in the track list. I still find him to be wack, but at least it's only the chorus of 'Hold My Liquor'. The last two minutes of this is just an instrumental. Not a great track overall. "Eatin' Asian pussy, all I need was sweet and sour sauce" is an example of the sexual lyrics I mentioned earlier that feature in the following 'I'm in It'. The worst song so far. 'Blood on the Leaves' isn't as unconventional as the earlier production and sees Kanye going back to auto-tune at the start and the end of the song, making it feel like something from 808s & Heartbreak. Another average song with Kanye jumping on the "molly" lyrical bandwagon as well. 'Guilt Trip' is another song with auto-tune singing/rapping. This one is better though and the best song for a few with a good trap/synthy beat where Kanye raps about a failed relationship it seems.. I really wish Kanye would stop associating with Cudi though, who sings the outro. Despising his voice with a passion takes the song down a notch. The penultimate 'Send It Up' is weak, lyrically and productionally. Finally, 'Bound 2' that I mentioned earlier, feels somewhat like a weaker 'Late' from Late Registration.
While vocally Kanye ain't bad to listen to and there are some entertaining lyrics, lyrically more is average than good. There's some conscious rap like on 'New Slaves', but a lot is also brag rap, with a lot of talk about sex as well at times. With the lyrics and vocals being rushed according to Rick Rubin, this isn't too surprising, and maybe Kanye should've spent another a few days on them and pushed the album back if this is true.
Overall, after a number of spins nothing takes my breath away. As Kanye's ego has continued to grow, he has continued to slip as a lyricist, which was never a massive strength as it was, but he always wrote some witty lines, and was probably better than people give him credit for to be fair, even if there have been ghostwriting rumours. The beats, with a larger influence from outside producers than the past, don't feel as revolutionary as I expected them to be for a lot of the album either. Not that the start of the album is mindblowing, but particularly over the second half that doesn't feel like much new at all. Some of the people talking about how groundbreaking this is need to listen to more music. After a number of projects now of not feeling Kanye, I am starting to doubt that there will ever be another one from him again that I will put on a pedestal like I did as he rose through the ranks.
Best Tracks: Black Skinhead, I Am a God, New Slaves, Guilt Trip