Friday, 21 June 2013

''Yeezus'' Kanye West - A Review

There's never a dull moment with Kanye West. Just five years ago it seemed that the Chicago bred rap star had hit somewhat of a crisis point following the release of the controversial, mostly misinterpreted 808's & Heartbreak which failed to gain the universal acclaim from critics and fans that his previous college trilogy had acquired. And while since it's gained notable recognition in hindsight for it's role in producing modern acts like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and Drake, the end of 2008 saw West strike a confused, disappointed and bitter figure, which he expressed through a number of incidents in bizarre fashion, the most obvious of which is the now infamous stage hijacking of poor Taylor Swift at the VMA's in September 2009.

Ever since Kanye seems to be a man on a mission, blasting his critics and proving the doubters wrong in 2010 with one of the finest album releases of the century (and arguably his finest) in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a record which simultaneously blended and perfected the sound of Late Registration, Graduation and 808's to devastating effect. This was followed with the braggadocio double effort Watch The Throne in 2011 with fellow rap superstar Jay-Z and Cruel Summer last year which saw West overseeing the talent he helped to create for his own label G.O.O.D Music.

That's a pretty busy 3 years, and the announcement that Ye was to become Kim Kardashian's baby daddy just a short while ago would have led many to believe that the rapper deserved some kind a of break away from the industry, time to settle down and begin family life perhaps. But there's never a dull moment with Kanye West.

Enlisting the services of Guy Manuel De Homem-Christo & Thomas Bangalter, Justin Vernon and Frank Ocean among others, West has once again created a very special record and the like of which only he is capable of in modern music. We kick off with a hard hitting mission statement in the form of  ''On Sight'', as we're told ''Yeezy season approaching... Too many hoes in this house of sin/Real nigga back in the house again'' over a hardcore electronic beat provided by Daft Punk that shocks the senses into waking up and preparing for what's ahead.

What's ahead are ''Black Skinhead'' and ''I Am A God'' which continue the electro rap mindfuck of the intro in the loudest and most unapologetic manner Ye and Daft Punk can manage, the latter in particular standing out for its egomaniacal rant, much in the same vein as ''Power'' on Dark Fantasy. From here we are introduced to man of the moment and another West prodigy in Frank Ocean as ''New Slaves'' tricks you into following a simpler beat before exploding into life in it's glorious second half, with Ocean delivering his trademark falsetto beauty over a rising, triumphant background making for possibly the finest moment on the entire album.

If it sounds like a lot to take in just four tracks, it certainly is and the album begins to pace itself afterwards, allowing the listener to take a welcome breath and recuperate for the rest of the short running time. ''Hold My Liquor'' and ''Blood On The Leaves'' feature the welcome addition of Justin Vernon as the pace drops, but while it's not quite as frantic, the latter half is just as outstanding, with the sonic majesty of each track reigning over the entire album all the way to its soothing close on ''Bound 2'' after just 40 minutes, and so Yeezus concludes, leaving us both exhausted and wanting more.

What is there to say about such an overwhelming experience in such a short length of time? If you were to compare this to any other Kanye album it'd probably be Graduation, but this is West at his heaviest, darkest and most extreme. Personnel wise Ye seems to have stuck close to many of the cast that made Dark Fantasy such a success, but perhaps the most impressive thing about Yeezus and its predecessor is the fact that West surrounds himself with such outstanding talent yet manages to retain the record as his own show entirely, bypassing some of the biggest names in music seemingly with his sheer presence and holier than thou attitude. But then again, if we're talking about big names, can you think of any more significant since the turn of the century than Kanye West?

Ultimately, there's a sea of modern rap artists who at some time or another will state their own claim to the throne but when Kanye has his own John Lennon moment and declares himself bigger than Jesus, the entire community stops and stares, maybe because just like the Beatles icon before him there is something decidedly messiah like about Kanye West in the context of modern music.


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