“[It] was my long, backhanded apology,” West told the 'paper. “It was like, all these raps, all these sonic acrobatics.”
Perhaps on purpose then, West’s sixth studio album, ‘Yeezus’, is stark and stripped down, a bizarre and uncompromising contrast to ‘Fantasy’’s ornate decadence.
On ‘Yeezus’, West is far more acerbic atop scant pop production, similar to that of 2008’s ‘808s & Heartbreak’. This illuminates his messages and forces you to listen, even if he’s more masturbatory than usual.
And when West isn’t comparing his own impact to that of Michael Jackson’s (‘I Am A God’), he’s denouncing rap’s current wave of “coon shit” (‘Black Skinhead’).
By and large, ‘Yeezus’ plays like a druggy foray through West’s scattered views: raw sexual fantasies (‘I’m In It’), the prison industrial complex (‘New Slaves’), and lovelorn angst (‘Guilt Trip’).
But while ‘Yeezus’ pushes a creative envelope, it’s tough to discern its creative focus at times. Certainly, West has nothing more to prove, but his music has greater impact when there’s a driving force behind it.
For ‘The College Dropout’ and ‘Late Registration’, West was the hungry outsider looking to carve his own lane. ‘Graduation’ was his “stadium” record, and ‘808s’ pacified his recent breakup. ‘Dark Twisted Fantasy’ served as a re-introduction for West: following the now-infamous Taylor Swift interruption, he took to Hawaii and recorded his magnum opus.
‘Yeezus’ might be more important for the culture than for West himself. West is a bona-fide trendsetter with a golden touch, and this album could signal a shift away from lighter rap fare to something a bit heavier. This is West’s most polarizing record to date, yet the discussion surrounding it gives a healthy charge to a rap game saturated with the same ol’ same ol’.
So no, ‘Yeezus’ isn’t a great record, but it doesn’t have to be. As with any Kanye recording, he dares to be different and sets a pace for others to follow. Now hurry up with his damn croissants.
Words: Marcus J. Moore
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