Universal/Def Jam – June 18th 2013
By Elyse Hill (@elyselikeswords)
Find it at: iTunes | Insound | HMV Digital
For a record that was briefly speculated to be called I Am God, Kanye West’s chosen title of Yeezus comes off as tame wordplay, ill-preparing his own audience for the wildly aggressive verses and provocative one liners to follow. An antithesis to his soul-filled samples and production of earlier albums, Kanye wisely employs Daft Punk and Rick Rubin to craft his unapologetic sixth album that lives up to the massive hype created by a single tweet. Darker than 2011’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and comparably visceral to even 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak, West mixes minimalism (“On Sight”), anarchist punk (“Black Skinhead”) and Chicago’s drill scene (“Send It Up”) while delivering his latest bout of experimentation that throws itself to reggae/dancehall legends such as Capleton, Beenie Man and Agent Sasco. The beats are refreshing, with shockingly poignant, politically motivated lyricism that finds room for Yeezy-esque remarks like “She Instagram herself like #BadBitchAlert” that were made for the Twitterverse.
Compared to MBDTF’s 17-man roster, Yeezus lists enviable features including Kid Cudi, Justin Vernon, Chief Keef and Frank Ocean, but leave it to Ye to keep them veiled in reverb and auto-tune, or tucked into the falling seconds of a riotous Hungarian psych rock sample (“New Slaves”). Call it egocentric, but the disc’s ten short songs is all the limelight he can afford to share. And while he notably strays from overwhelming the album with more recognizable samples, he effectively uses the vivid imagery of a Nina Simone throwback on “Blood On The Leaves”, a pinnacle track that stings with its third verse and rattles with Hudson Mohawke’s maniacal production. It’s a well-crafted assembly of his entire career, reminding you of Yeezy’s ear for soul and ingenuity. If you do find yourself missing the early sounds of Late Registration or Graduation, Kanye bluntly encapsulates the tone of his album and his role as almighty Yeezus in a Phuture sample on the LP’s intro: “He’ll give us what we need/ It may not be what we want”.
Listen: “I Am A God”, “Blood On The Leaves”, “Bound 2” || Watch: “New Slaves (ft. Frank Ocean)”