Album Review: Yeezus by Kanye West

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REVIEW Igor Lukacevic

Greetings fellow pillars of the community. May your mid-year break be merry, and your impending uni marks be very… awesome. More importantly, let’s discuss Kanye West’s new album Yeezus.

It goes without saying that Kanye is a very divisive character, and even if you see him as an insufferable megalomaniac, it’s fair to say that he’s a pretty tight artist. When you consider the soup he swims in, with your Lil Weezy’s and Drake’s, Kanye’s productions are always well ahead of the curve. He never succumbs to the typical or the expected. The tracks on the record are certainly ambitious, with varying sounds and structures and a slew of interesting guest producers like Daft Punk, Rick Rubin, Evian Christ and Hudson Mohawke.

Despite its eclecticism, Yeezus comes together as a cohesive, flowing album. There is a pretty obvious Death Grips influence on the record, with the minimal bass distortions that characterize tracks like ‘On Sight’, ‘Black Skinhead’ and ‘New Slaves’ especially reminiscent of them. Either way, the production on this album is really strong. There are some really tense and almost euphoric moments on tracks like ‘I Am A God’ and ‘Hold My Liquor’, and most of the other tracks are solid additions to the record. ‘Guilt Trip’ and ‘Send It Up’ are the only wasted moments on here – tracks I’d readily skip the second they came on – but hey, they might just end up being your favourite tracks. Overall, the album is really enjoyable and will no doubt get rinsed several more times.

On the flip side, there is something about Yeezus that purists will probably take issue with: the lyrics. Kanye can throw down some mean lines, and has done so quite consistently in the past. However, they’re often pretty average on this album. And while the lyrics may be off-putting because of the unrestrained narcissism and standard Yeezy egoism, they’re just generally quite sloppy and rushed. When you look back at his last two solo albums 808’s & Heartbreak and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, there are some really memorable verses and lines that will continue to resonate through time. Yeezus doesn’t have that. But lyrics aren’t everything. The productions and vocals can be enjoyed for what they are.

The real issue I find with the album is the pseudo-revolutionary bullshit surrounding it. The whole “minimal” marketing strategy Kanye has adopted is really just a thinly-veiled attempt at portraying some sort of anti-established, anti -“man” persona. When you’re signed to a major record label, and make multi-million dollar deals with Nike and other corporations, and then decide to pretend like you don’t give a fuck for all the fame and money by having “NOT FOR SALE” flashing behind you when performing on SNL, then you’re being disingenuous. It’s not hard to read between the lines and see it for what it is. And while I think it’s bullshit, I’m not personally invested enough to really care for Kanye’s sneaky agenda. I’m also not jaded enough (…YET) to not be able to be objective with the music itself, and neither should all twelve of you Grapeshot readers, because there’s a lot of great music to be heard on Yeezus. Real talk.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5