Guest blog by Howard Yew
Kanye West is an artist known for taking risks and pushing the boundaries of hip-hop. In his latest album Yeezus, Kanye once again proves his ability to draw listeners out of their comfort zone and into his world. The entire album consists of 10 songs and runs for a total of approximately 41 minutes. Right from the start, the listener is subjected to heavy, distorted synths which sound angry and unpredictable as if Kanye is prepping us for the tone of his album.
The instrumentation however, fits well with the subject matter of the album as well as Kanye’s current state of mind. In the tracks “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves,” quite possibly his angriest songs on the album, he expresses his frustration with the criticism he receives from media as well as how blacks are portrayed in the eyes of Middle America.
Aside from speaking on his criticisms, Kanye also criticizes other rappers and challenges them to stop portraying stereotypical images of black males. He bashes artists to create their own style and art as opposed to copying one another. Perhaps Kanye sees himself as the only hip-hop artist pushing the playing field to another level, thus justifying his braggadocio persona and ego as we hear in “I Am A God.”
After the first four songs on the album where Kanye observes the world around him, he spends the majority of the rest of Yeezus reflecting on his own life, mainly his longing for a meaningful relationship. Starting from “Hold My Liquor,” Kanye takes us on a journey of his failed relationships and empty sexcapades up till he finally finds solace in “Bound 2.”
Fans of classic Kanye will find little of what they are used to in Yeezus. Although his raps are nowhere near the days of The College Dropout and Late Registration, the production hooks the listener. Yeezus is experimental compared to the other hip-hop releases of 2013. Listen to it with an open mind in the context of Kanye’s current stage in life. Comparing it to his previous albums will only set you up for disappointment.