We are happy to introduce guest blogger FadeToBlack to The Harmony with his review of Kanye West’s Yeezus.
So Kanye likes his cunnilingus with a side of sweet and sour sauce? I wonder if it’s the type that McDonald serves, cause if it is, that’s perfectly understandable- trailblazing even. Damn, this man is really is a visionary, I wish I thought of it first! But I digress. I can’t dickride too much lest people confuse me for a Pitchfork critic.
The start of the album is quite jarring – loud distorted riffs, synths, jarring bass, abrupt interludes, primal screams – it’s almost seems like he’s daring you to listen any further, testing the limits of your endurance of pseudo-intellectual racial commentary over loud ass heavily distorted electronica. However once you pass that test of the first 4 songs then it starts to get real interesting.
There’s the hold my liquor track, where Keef who is actually “real hip hop”, (see dissertation here) croons in the most robotic and affectionate way to apologize (?) for him and his niggas drunkenness. (For y’all still sleeping on Keef, ‘Bang’ is one of the most incredible songs I heard last year.) The production is on point and the features are executed flawlessly. Next comes ‘I’m In It’, which is an absolute banger – the only track on here which could potentially be a single. I use that word very liberally as you get the sneaking suspicion that Kanye almost doesn’t want any of the album played on the radio. The rest of the album is also very good, ‘Blood On The Leaves’ sounds very good and if you like that College Dropout Kanye, then you’ll also love ‘Bound 2’. The album sounds very good.
Herein lies the problem, it all sounds very good as an entire package, but production is not the only part of the story in hip-hop, lyrics also matter. It’s analogous to a really beautiful girl you meet and intially things are going well, and because she’s so pretty you never really tune in to what she’s actually saying but then one day you actually tune in to what she’s saying and then it dawns upon you…
Wow. This chick says things that are WACK!
This is album is that chick. At first the album sounds remarkable, but on closer inspection, one finds out that the lyrics are terrible…like hot garbage terrible. And yeah, yeah, I know. Listening to Kanye for very dope lyrics is like looking for Natucket bay scallops in Cambodia, but this sh-t? This sh-t is just bad.
“I put my fist in her like a civil right sign”
“Your titties, let em’ out, free at last!” (Actually lol’d at this one)
“When I pull and park that benz, we get that shit shaking like Parkinson’s”
Alas it’s all in the delivery, not the line per se. See, beaucoup many rap lines sound ordinary in paper, but the conviction and delivery of the rappers voice makes it very hot. Wayne did this very convincingly on the mixtapes between Carter II and III to great success- it sounded like he actually believed he could “fly with the fishes and swim with the pigeons” (‘Sky Is The Limit’ – Da Drought 3). But Kanye doesn’t actually sound convincing, he seems like he just wants to design hotels instead. Oh wait, maybe that cause that’s what he actually wants to do. He did say just that on Cruel Summer.
“Cause everything around me got me feeling underwhelmed” (‘The One’)
“But I just want to design hotel and nail it.” (‘Clique’)
When Cruel Summer came out, those lines and the untypical lack of effort displayed in the bars, made me fear for the quality of the album and it appears that I was somewhat right.
What distinguishes a good or great album is in the details you catch months after hearing it, when you’re on the bus just pondering how dope a verse on a song is. Like the intonation Kanye uses in his voice when he says “Face it, Jerome gets more time than Brandon” on ‘Gorgeous’ (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) or the intensity in his voice when he says “With my ego, I could stand there in a speedo and be looked at like a fucking hero” on ‘The Glory’ (Graduation). Or how threatening the sound is when he says “If you ever switch sides like Anakin, you will sell everything including the mannequin” on ‘Gone’ (Late Registration). Or the pain in his voice when he auto-tune warbles “My friend showed me a picture of his kids, and all I could show him was pictures of my cribs” on ‘Welcome To Heartbreak’ (808 & Heartbreaks). Or the genuine heartwarmer/tear jerker that is the entire of ‘Family Business’ (College Dropout). I seriously doubt I’ll have any such moments from this album.
Back in those days, Kanye was like the beautiful freshman girl who blossomed late and hadn’t consciously registered her attractiveness yet. Her quirks and attitude were appealing and endearing. But as time went, she slowly began to change and became more aware of her attractiveness, with her endearing flaws erased and her eyes cold. She’s still beautiful, but you don’t want her as much because she isn’t as human.
Kanye has changed. It was inevitable, it got to his head. This is still good music though. Really good, in fact. Great? Only time will tell. I once thought 808’s was wack but it single-handedly changed the whole rap game. If this album widens the goalpost of rap and encourages experimentation within the genre, then it might have just served its purpose.
You can catch more of FadeToBlack’s thoughts on rap, culture, and the state of society at his blog. Check it out, stay trill.