Lyrics like this, arrogant and abrasive, are what create the villainous image that Kanye has so proudly taken. It’s not just that his music takes this tone but everything he does has this underlying feeling. It seems over the years, Kanye’s ego keeps on growing and growing. In the musical world, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In 2008 he broke the mold with different sounds on his widely criticized “808s & Heartbreak”. 2010 brought us his critically acclaimed “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, and the following year brought us the braggadocios collaborative “Watch the Throne.” Kanye repeatedly pushes the limits in the mainstream which is the beauty of it all. On “Yeezus”, you’ll find his most experimental project to date. The production is completely schizophrenic, the lyrics are completely trashy, yet I still find myself completely admiring Kanye’s project. It’s all in the manner he does it in. That schizophrenic production? It is the powerfully urgent driver of this fast paced album. Those trashy lines? It’s the narcissistic and egocentric style that Kanye has completely mastered to tell his tale of how Yeezus “rose”. “Yeezus”, as different as it sounds, is an excellent album with outstanding production that depicts Kanye’s high and almighty alter ego, all while sounding incredibly human and vulnerable.
Hip hop fans are most likely scratching their heads when listening to this album. There is no conventional hip hop production found on here. Production on this album is taken over by the likes of Daft Punk, Rick Rubin, and TNGHT’s Hudson Mohawke. This makes up for an electronic/ industrial grind thrill ride. The album is not exactly an easy listen compared to his previous projects. The production on the album takes a rushed and urgent approach as if each and every track is racing to the very end of the album’s serene pinnacle, “Bound 2.”
The moment the first track starts, we are nonstop bludgeoned to death with in your face production. Opening track, “On Sight”, bombards us with a heavy, industrial grind type production that can be tied to new upcoming noise/hip hop groups. “Black Skinhead” follows with some prominent drum rolls that transitions into this type of voiced beat with breaths, shrieks, and screams orchestrating the rhythem. This track is a great production feat within its own right .An instrumental composed entirely of human noises, dirty guitar riffs, and drums, is nothing short of spectacular. The screams don’t rest after this track either. On “I am A God”, what seems to be an electronic dance track progresses into this scream fest where each horrifying scream is altered sonically to create a terrifying and anguished track. “New Slaves” has this villainous sounding and repetitive beat that sounds like it would be in a horror movie with some ominous horns repeating its beat over and over again. “Blood on the leaves” has the sample from Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” and TNGHT’s Hudson Mohawke’s “R u Rdy” horns infused with the track. The horns blaring in the background of this track ever so perfectly create one of the most memorable produced tracks on the album. All of this fast pace production seems to be racing to one thing and that is the soulful and climatic conclusion to the album: “Bound 2.” The last track of this album seems out of place. The production sounds totally different than anything else on the album. It is a beautiful track with soulful inspired production. The stark difference in production from the first nine tracks to the last, is set in place for a reason though. Kanye’s aggressive and offensive lyrics tell the tale as to why.
If I were to describe the story of this album, it would go like this. Kanye, as high and almighty as he thinks he is, proclaims himself a god. He goes on about racism, the “New” commercial slaves that surround him, his ex-girlfriend, and the drunken nights of mindless sex that involve “sweet and sour sauce”. And alas, once the final chapter of his epic narrative finishes on the last track, “Yeezus” has finally risen to heaven? What does this all mean? Presumably, it looks like an emotional release. As everyone knows, Kanye is having a kid. A lot must be going on through his head and this album looks like a perfect way to release it all. On the track “I’m in It”, as gross as the song is with the XXX rated material, it includes a line that goes ” Uh, got the kids and the wife life/Uh, but can’t wake up from the night life/Uh, I’m so scared of my demons/Uh, I go to sleep with a nightlight.”
What made the album so satisfying to me, was the fact that Kanye threw in a sort of “Ah Hah, got you” moment with the last track. It felt as if he had known all about the first nine tracks sounding unconventional.Yet he ended it with the beautiful track, “Bound 2”. The album was completely relentless and felt like a blur until everything slowed down to a crawl on the serene conclusion. It’s funny how on the ninth track, “Send it Up”, the last verse Kanye says on the track is “Yeezus just rose again.” The track following is about him finally finding love with some very sweet, loving, and heavenly production. This leaves me with one notion. Can “Yeezus” be his arrogant alter ego he has taken all along and he has now ridden himself of it because he has finally found true love and a family?
“Yeezus” isn’t a traditional hip hop album and for that, I’ve seen the project receive a lot of flak. A friend of mine actually told me that if I like “electro shit” then I would like “this shit.” It’s understandable, it is different. What some aren’t seeing is that Kanye is opening the doors for other artists to come to the spotlight with this project as well. Kanye is definitely not the first to come up with this type of music. Death Grips is an experimental punk/hip hop group that is putting out music with production like on the track, “On Sight”, with even more so abrasive and violent verses than this album. Kanye being the influential artist he is, can alter what the perception of hip hop is and allow artists like Death Grips to receive the recognition they so greatly need. On top of that, this album does a stellar job of taking the listener on a high octane ride through what Kanye is undoubtedly feeling right now. The album feels like an adrenaline shot that he has been craving to release. What better way to release every type of egotistic and abrasive feeling in his system then to do it right before he becomes a husband and a father.