Review Summary: Yeezus painfully suffers from one pitfall – laziness
After Kanye gave us the crown achievement in hip-hop production, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, an album so grandiose and epic in scope, is it possible that he set the bar too high for himself? No, that would be an entirely unfair assumption to make. Kanye has more than enough capability to craft a masterpiece album with spot-on production and beats, injected with his clever lyrics and personality, but Yeezus painfully suffers from one pitfall – laziness.
In Kanye's rush to jump the bandwagon and create an alternative hip-hop album, he stumbles through ten tracks that have a few fun moments, but mostly fall short of our expectations. The bleepy-bloopy electronic production on 'On Sight' is interesting and unique and will immediately have the listener expecting something different, but the random sample of “He’ll Give Us What We Really Need” by 'Holy Name of Mary Choral Family' mostly only serves to confuse. It didn't feel experimental or creative to have an awkward switch to a classic sample in the middle of some blocky industrial collection of beeps – it felt like a lazy attempt at feigning inspiration. He does this more than once on the album, he tosses some bizarre and sudden changes of direction in a number of the tracks, such as on 'New Slaves' and 'Bound 2'. While I enjoy the moody and atmospheric production on 'Hold My Liquor', the auto-tuning at the beginning and middle of the track entirely kills any mood the track might have created for me. This same problem persists on 'Blood on the Leaves' and 'Guilt Trip', two otherwise decent tracks ruined by vocals completely saturated in that robotic auto-tuned sound.
'Black Skinhead' has a fun, catchy beat, and Kanye's delivery is strong, but this song is the first example of many lyrical pitfalls. Kanye's lyrics are very weak on Yeezus, and in many cases don't even make sense. He raps, “I keep it three hundred, like the Romans, three hundred bitches, where the trojans?” or “If I woulda known what I knew in the past, I woulda been blacked out on your ass”. 'I am a God' is not much better in terms of lyrics. While the eerie, almost post apocalyptic sounding backdrop of electronic effects presents an interesting mood to the song, the lyrics “I am a God, so hurry up with my damn massage, in this French ass restaurant, hurry up with my damn croissants” kills the serious and bleak mood presented by the production. To make it worse, he ends the track with guttural screams. Once again, this appears to be an effort at feigning artistic inspiration by throwing unexpected twists and turns in our faces. Is he attempting to portray himself as edgy, wild, ingenious but also misunderstood?
This album has a few fun moments on it worth mentioning, it's not entirely awful. It's difficult not to be caught up in a momentary musical euphoria when Kanye drops the beat on “I'm In It”. I found it difficult not to smile at the reference: “time to take it too far now, Michael Douglas out the car now”. I may stand alone on this one, but I enjoyed the club feel on the track 'Send It Up'. Don't expect anything profound on this track (or on this album for that matter), but it's a fun head bopper to say the least. Black Skinhead, although horribly lacking in substance, is very catchy and energetic. I'd give him props for attempting to create an alternative hip-hop album with unique production style throughout, such as on 'On Sight' and 'I am a God'. We end Yeezus with 'Bound 2', an immensely awkward track with strange sampling and bad lyrics to boot. Everything on this album feels rushed, unfinished, unpolished, and fairly self indulgent on Kanye's part. We know you are capable of more Kanye, better luck on the next one.