Review Summary: Today, I seriously thought about killing you
Kanye West is what many would call a loose canon. He's notoriously erratic and outspoken, often to the point of embarrassment and ridicule by the community. Never the stranger to controversy, Kanye kicked up a storm in the first half of 2018 with his vocal support for Donald Trump and a rather questionable comment about slavery. Still, Ye takes these raw emotions and manages to craft masterpieces. 808s and Heartbreak was his most emotional and mature when it was released in 2008, and his newest record 'ye' is no different.
Ye is a mellow record. At only 23 minutes it's unfortunately over far too soon, but during this time, Kanye delivers another emotional and honest gem. His last record, The Life Of Pablo, while having its dark spot, was more uplifting in nature, having a strong gospel influence. ye is suitably much more mellow and soft, fitting for the lush and lonely landscapes of Wyoming where the album was recorded. Musically, ye never captures the extreme sonic assault of Yeezus and the schizophrenic art rap of The Life Of Pablo. Kanye instead has returned to a simpler sound. An interesting thing to note is the return of soul samples. While they were present on his last few albums, here they're back in the limelight. Tracks like the sublime 'Ghost Town' and 'No Mistakes' utilise soul samples to weave in with the beat and lyrics. The samples in No Mistakes form a sort of call and response vocal from Kanye and the explosive electric guitar/army drum combo on Ghost Town is absolutely mesmerising.
Lyrically, ye is incredibly personal. Taking the 808s route, Kanye has taken back to writing about his emotional state. He even states himself "It's been a shaky ass year". Indeed it has. Through the birth of his third child, his financial struggles and widespread condemnation of his... questionable comments, Kanye has pulled through. The album deals with his struggle with his bipolar disorder (referenced straight down to the album) and his anxiety and depression. "Today, I seriously thought about killing you. I contemplated, premeditated murder and I think About Killing myself and I love myself way more than I love you" he states on the opening track 'I Thought About Killing You'. While 808s was more about depression, ye tackles Kanye's worst demons head on. Deep down, behind his seemingly unbreakable stoney demeanour, Kanye is frightened. "Sometimes I scare myself!" He yells on 'Yikes!'. Yet, he manages himself to remain positive and determined, even through the pain.
"That's my bipolar ***, n***a what?
That's my superpower, n***a ain't no disability
I'm a superhero! I'm a superhero!"
Kanye has never really been the gushy emotional type, but with ye, this is as emotional as he's been in a while. His main source of inspiration of getting through his agony is his wife Kim and his children. Track 4 'Wouldn't Leave' details Mrs West staying by Kanye's side during the couple's financial issues. It's another emotional height on an already emotional album. The finale 'Violent Crimes' explores Kanye's anxiety over how his daughters will be treat when they are older by men. Not only does Kanye delve into his feelings as a person and a husband, but as a father too. To me, this makes ye his most mature album yet. Yes, there are some completely inane lyrics here, it wouldn't be Kanye without them. Track 3 'All Mine' contains some of his most bizarre and Out Of place lyrics yet for example, but the rest of the album's emotional maturity outweighs the unusualness of these lines.
All in all, ye is an milestone in Kanye's career. By taking a step back, with a reduced track list and length, Kanye fills each song with some of his most honest; bleak lyrics yet. It's a quaint, unique record but one that is distinctly Kanye.
I Thought About Killing You
"I put my hand on the stove to see if I still bleed" - Ghost Town
"I love your titties because they prove I can focus on two things at once" - All Mine
"But how you the devil rebukin' the sin? Let's pray we can put this behind us, I swear that these times is the wildest" - Violent Crimes
"Ayy, none of us would be here without cum" - All Mine