23 of 27 thought this review was well writtenYeezus
is an ambitious work that marries jarring industrial, idiosyncratic samples and some remarkable electronic influence, but you have to ask yourself, what does Yeezus
actually gain from any of this? The output is, in truth, an underwhelming album experience. For the most part, Yeezus
fumbles around with a strange collection of songs that don't seem to fit together at all, leaving us with a disjointed listen devoid of any of the high points which made My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
such a fabulous success. Not that an album has
to have the melodramatic highs of Fantasy
at all, but the reason that it was such a crowning achievement in hip hop was its sense of direction and momentum: a triumphant, empowering journey that so few hip hop records make.
The tracks in and of themselves aren’t all bad: many of them are in fact fairly well done (the opener, “Black Skinhead” and “Blood on the Leaves” to name a few). Sadly, the weaknesses on Yeezus
outweigh the strengths. Kanye’s rapping is at its weakest here regardless of whatever interesting production is attached, offering almost no exciting flows or rhythms, and seem only present for the purpose of branding Yeezus
as a Kanye record (as if the title didn’t do that well enough). Tracks like “I’m in It” or “Send It Up” showcase prodding beats and vocals which fail to add any interest to the tracks whatsoever. “New Slaves”, filled to the brim with compelling ideas, unfortunately only sees Kanye building up a climax, cutting it off, repeating this a few times, and then cutting into a completely random rock coda that seems to take the momentum right from under “Hold My Liquor”. “Bound 2” is the worst offender of them all (and, dear God, it’s the closer), playing like an extremely weary version of “Devil in a New Dress” with a sloppy Kanye limping around the track with his verses between a ridiculously annoying “a-ha, honey” sample.
What truly makes Yeezus
such a goddamn bore, however, is its total lack of the flow or purpose that Fantasy
had. It doesn’t take long for it to become apparent that what the tracks accomplish as a collective work is next to nothing. The weakness is simply because they don’t feel like natural transitions or complementing movements of a larger body of work, but rather like a bunch of random songs that have no business being together whatsoever. Kanye’s experimental direction is probably what’s to blame here, with tracks like “New Slaves” or “Guilt Trip” becoming so caught up in being minimalistic in atmosphere, structure or sonic layering that they actually lose a sense of direction and begin to simply rehash ideas to a beating-a-dead-horse effect, or throw in new ideas in an attempt to be compelling or edgy, when these new ideas are in fact far from interesting (Agent Sasco’s rapping on “I’m In It” being one huge example). The result is a ponderous affair of a record in which songs fail to lead into the next or naturally necessitate one another, and considering that many of the songs here have little value of their own, Yeezus
as a whole completely falls apart.
Finishing the album and looking back is such an indifferent experience: it’s ironically similar to listening to a generic radio pop album in that nothing seems to have been accomplished over the forty minute runtime. Indeed, some tracks on Yeezus
are quite poor, but others that aren’t so are also present, albeit lost between the poor ones. It’s a mind-boggling, hit-and-miss collection of songs, but the reason it’s an utterly neutral album experience is that the tracks that are actually worthwhile ultimately lead into nothing, and so Yeezus
doesn’t quite seem like a failure as much as a totally forgettable record that just makes you want to listen to Fantasy
or Death Grips or something. At any rate, meh