02. Kanye West - Yeezus
Yeah, yeah. You’re sick of Kanye. He doesn’t care. He’s going to **** with all of our shit. He doesn’t care. And that’s what I love about Yeezus. OK, I love many things about this album. First of which is how much it grows on you. My first impression was “Was that it? All that aggression, and for what? Seems half-formed.” Also, it was hard for me to get over the fact that this album is inspired directly by Death Grips. Kanye is usually a trend-setter. Drake wouldn’t have a career in music if Kanye hadn’t invented Drake’s sound for him on 808s and Heartbreak. Kanye’s previous album was forward-thinking in all of the best ways. Yeezus by comparison sounded a year too late; Death Grips ruled 2012 with the same sonic principles. The truth, though, is that Death Grips were a year too early (and, again, Kanye gives me proof that I was right to rank The Money Store #1 last year). This album is actually quite catchy once you spend time to figure out its movements, or to realize when it jarringly moves for no purpose.
The album’s arc is fascinating: Kanye is writing some of the most political, angry material of his career. “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves” lack the polish of Kanye’s previous material. You have to understand: Kanye West is a musical perfectionist. He demands perfection from himself. So that these two songs, debuted on SNL, are as raw as they are is the first punk statement Kanye has allowed himself to make. Musically, anyway. This album, more than anything, is about finally merging Kanye’s public persona with his musical identity. But an interesting thing starts to happen while Kanye is calling himself a God. He starts to get upset at his relationship history. He starts to realize that some of this anger he’s feeling is psycho-sexual in nature. He realizes that if his long-term relationship with Kim is going to work, he’ll have to get some things off his chest first. And, yes, they are absolutely for her to hear. The sexual conquests of “I’m In It” are depraved, sure, and Kanye uses dancehall samples & Beenie Man vocals in such a way as to create a tense, freighting vibe. “Blood on the Leaves” is one of the most powerful songs I heard all year; in it, Kanye goes over the beginning and end of his relationship with Alexis Phifer (it has been the cause of nearly everything he’s put out since 808s and Heartbreak), using Nina Simone singing “Strange Fruit” as a bleating alarm, and using some intense horns from TNGHT to punctuate things and the emotions get ramped up to one of the most intense boiling points in hip-hop history. Is this even hip-hop, actually? I don’t even know. I don’t even care. Kanye is in a realm of his own when it comes to the art of the sample. The album closes with “Bound 2,” which feels like vintage Kanye in sound. Charlie Wilson delivers perhaps the best Kanye chorus ever. Lyrically, it wraps up the theme of the album: Kim, you need to know where this anger comes from so that we understand how to be with each other. I have to finally let myself be angry about Alexis instead of just depressed, so that I can finally move on and be with you.” Personally, I don’t have much faith that Kanye can move on. But that’s neither here nor there. What’s here is an album that I think is rightly topping many best-of lists. In a weak year for music, I think Yeezus is the best album I listened to. But there was one other album that I actually enjoyed more…
Originally Posted by Delano
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