Review Summary: Great production and lyrics to laugh at.
Kanye West is a Illinois rapper who has made a name for himself not only in the rap game but in pop music overall. His latest album Yeezus was one of the most, if not the most, anticipated albums of 2013 and Kanye lives up to most of the hype surrounding the record.
Being a Kanye West West it’s no surprise that the production on Yeezus is amazing. His production style has changed with each album and this album is no different. Working with many different guest producers including big names such as Rick Rubin and Daft Punk, he has crafted a very harsh and dark sounding record that draws comparisons to the industrial sounds of Saul Williams and more recently Death Grips. On the track “On Sight” and “New Slaves” the dark production is suddenly stopped for soulful sample breaks that have been twisted just enough to sound perfect on the album. Sampling on this album( and all Kanye albums) is absolutely flawless. The track “Blood on the Leaves” features a sample of the Nina Simone song “Strange Fruit” that creates a breathless atmosphere that is truly something to experience. “Hold My Liquor” manages to create a forlorn atmosphere with captivating guitar harmonies and a drunken vocoder soaked hook delivered by Chief Keef.
The lyricism on Yeezus is admittedly hit and miss. While there are a few lines on the album that are well done most are just doltish. Nuggets such as “I just talked to Jesus/He said “what up Yeezus?” and “I be speaking swaghili” are stupidly clever but could easily offend some. Although Kanye does a lot of gloating on Yeezus there is a feeling of hopelessness and vulnerability that creates a juxtaposition between confidently arrogant tracks like “I Am a God” and heartbroken one’s such a “Hold My Liquor”. Regardless of the quality of the lyrics, they certainly fit with the sound and tone of the album. The dark atmosphere works so well with the tales of excess on “I Am a God” and experiences of lost love on “Hold My Liquor”. The albums closer “Bound 2” is a optimistic closer about that talks about his “Leave a pretty girl sad reputation” which he soon rhymes with this winner of a bar “Start a Fight Club Brad reputation”.
Kanye’s rapping has never been his strongest asset but on Yeezus he delivers some quality flows. On “New Slaves” he rides a flow from beginning to end with some tricky wordplay and delivers an auto tuned vocal at the very end of the track along with Frank Ocean who ends the song with sweet falsetto vocals. The best and worst rapping on the album comes from the track “I’m in It”. Kanye’s verses are unremarkable but the guest verse by Assassin is amazing. Assassin comes in at lighting speed and doesn’t let up until the verse is over. The best parts of the album are when Kanye doesn’t rap but when he sings with the help of a vocoder. On “Guilt Trip” Kanye delivers autotuned lyrics about his failed relationships which brings back memories of his 2010 track “Runaway”. Kid Cudi is also featured on “Guilt Trip” and even though he’s not the most gifted singer his untrained voice only helps the line “If you love me so much then why’d you let me go.” fell very powerful and heartbreaking.
While 2010’s My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy could be seen as Kanye’s attempt at getting the public to like him again, Yeezus makes you hate him all over again. Between the boastful and stupid lyrics Kanye proves he really is a jerk albeit a very talented one. Although the album is not his best it’s certainly a great record that’s ahead of it’s time which features flawless production and creates an ominous atmosphere.