Review Summary: 'Ye' whatever...
They’ve always said he’s a born trend setter and here’s Kanye releasing an incredibly short album hot on the heels of last week’s West affiliated release from Pusha T, which in case you don’t know clocks in at a distinctly lightweight 21 minutes. ‘Ye’ boasts an extra 3 minutes of tape but considering the first three minutes of this release consist of a tedious beat-free intro with some quasi-philospophy of the paper thin variety, let's just say they’re both ‘equally slight’. The argument is that this is a refreshing approach and if any genre could look to trim album lengths by ten to twenty minutes it would be hip hop, where that potential 74 minutes of space on a CD always seems to weigh heavy for whatever reason. A short Kanye West album？ In theory I can get behind it.
In fact applying that logic to every previous album released by West would surely make for improved consistency and a better track flow; if they all weighed in at seven songs we’d be looking at some far slicker listens. So the man has had a lightbulb moment…just ten years too late as the well of musical inspiration has long dried up with West stuck in soul-lite purgatory and showing no evidence of an escape plan. Three of the songs here consist primarily of gospel vocals repeated ad infinitum that boast very lukewarm/heard-a-million-times-before melodies. What of Ye’s famed production qualities？ Distinctly hit and miss, a lot of this sounds quite vintage bordering on stuffy; I doubt any claims that we’re listening to ‘the future of music’ will be made concerning this release. Worse still there are a couple of outright gaffs here, in particular you can tell me the sound at 3:16 of ‘Ghost Town’ isn’t someone breaking wind in the studio but I’ll never believe you. What a ripper.
Similar to ‘Life of Pablo’, the biggest criticism here isn’t so much that there’s boring mid tempo soul-lite/faux gospel material included, it’s that there’s a total lack of the game changing hits West has proven he can deliver in the past. No ‘POWER’, no ‘Runaway’, no ‘Stronger’, no ‘Black Skinhead’, definitely no ‘Gold Digger’. Hits aren’t everything but just try making a valid argument they aren’t this man’s lifeblood. The Pusha T release has also pushed another failing into sharp focus; 2018 Ye no longer packs the bite to make his bars jump out, and if you’re releasing tunes where they’re supposed to be the star feature you’re in trouble.
If ‘Pablo’ had flashed the warning signs this release confirms all suspicions - Kanye has become eminently skippable as a songwriter. The standout track on ‘Ye’ is the admittedly arresting ‘All Mine’...but it’s 2 minutes long and underdeveloped. Kanye West for president？ Whatever, at this stage he needs a new outlet, because this sounds like a hobby now.