“Yeezy season approaching.” Indeed it might be. The opening line of the album pulses through the speakers to let the audience know that Kanye West is in the driver’s seat and we are merely passengers along for the ride. The ride is a brief forty minutes, but is precise in its timing, leaving us all wanting a bit more. It is clear early on that this is not the Mr. West we are accustomed to seeing. It is a darker and even more twisted ride than his previous outing in 2010, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.” Weeks before the album came out, you could tell this wasn’t going to be your run of the mill Hip-Hop album, having skipped traditional ways of marketing such as radio singles, interviews, and things of that nature. No, instead Kanye projected a scowling and frightening image of himself on 66 buildings across the globe, performing a controversial cut off the album titled “New Slaves.” In what would eventually become one of the standout tracks off “Yeezus”, Mr. West explores society’s imprisonment to material objects and corporations. The album doesn’t get much lighter in tone from than on either. From the thumping and sexually charged “I’m In It” to the late night wasted confession that is “Hold My Liquor”, it is not an album that is made for easy listening. Rather, it is an album made to push the envelope in Hip-Hop from someone who has continued to innovate since his early producing days with Jay-Z in 2000.
The frustration and pain on this album is evident in tracks like the egotistical and sonically brilliant “I Am a God”, in which he boasts “Pink-ass polos with a fucking backpack/But everybody know you brought real rap back.” Referencing his earlier career when he was the polo-wearing, backpack sporting preppy rapper everyone learned to love on his 2004 debut, “College Dropout.” He seems to be frustrated with the amount of respect he receives, adding chilling screams throughout the song, subliminally asking the listener, “Can you hear me now?”
Hate or love Kanye West, one thing is evident: The passion that he has for his craft is undeniably admirable. You’d have a hard time finding any of these songs on the repetitive loop that is known today as our radio stations. In a recent interview with BBC, Mr. West said that on this album he was not trying to make music for the radio, rather that the radio should start coming to artists like himself, who are trying to innovate. Yeezus is no doubt a thrilling, yet chilling ride into the mind of a musical perfectionist, but in no way is this album perfect. As mentioned before, the addition of screams, warped beats, and hard thumping bass make for an uneasy, yet truly exciting musical experience. Perfection was not the intent here, for in that same BBC radio interview, Kanye states “I know how to make perfect. But that’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to crack the pavement and make new grounds, sonically and society, culturally.” And for that, we thank you Mr. West.