I thought I’d give this very much talked about album a shot after its release yesterday. Long time Audiophilia readers will know of my disdain for Kanye West, who I consider a musical fraud. But, I promise to give West’s sixth solo album a fair hearing. The CD has received rave reviews from London to New York — mainstream papers have shouted ‘genius’, ‘brilliant’, ‘he’s back with a great album’. High praise from the broadsheets.
‘Solo’ album seems to be a bit of a misnomer. Although West is the prime rapper, there are more ‘collaborators’ on this album than Mahler’s Symphony of a Thousand. West has enlisted a veritable who’s who of hip hop and house music to assist his efforts.
So, enough of the veiled snark. How does the album sound? As a rap exercise, pretty damn good. West suggests that Yeezus is influenced ‘deeply by Chicago house sound’. I’m not equipped to comment on ‘Chicago House’, but I do know that Yeezus is much more rap than house. Sure, there’s ostinato aplenty, but nothing hypnotic — West won’t allow himself out of the spotlight for too long.
As a production, bass freaks will love it, fans of puerile, vapid lyrics will rejoice — I wish I could quote some of the lyrics, but each song is a paean to ‘bitches’, ‘hos’, and the ‘N Word’. Oh, and new wealth. William Blake or John Lennon, he aint!
In Canada’s Globe and Mail this morning, J.D. Considine asked, in his full page review/analysis, ‘is the narcissism justified?’. He says yes. And his essay was full of the reasons why: ‘ But the sound, the insight and the daring of this album are enough to suggest that maybe West is as as brilliant as he says.’
Considine couldn’t be more wrong.
If you like rap, you’ll enjoy the album for its soundscapes and its placement of the singer as a God of Cool. A sex and money lean machine. For me, it’s BMW, roof down cruising muzak. No more. A bit of fun and louder than road noise. It’s when the Guardian and Globe ascribe depth to crap lyrics and musical knowledge to juvenile rhythms that we part company.
1. “On Sight”
2. “Black Skinhead”
3. “I Am a God” (featuring God)
4. “New Slaves”
5. “Hold My Liquor”
6. “I’m in It”
7. “Blood on the Leaves”
8. “Guilt Trip”
9. “Send It Up”
10. “Bound 2″
Playing time: 40:01
Warning: Sexually explicit lyrics
Purchase at our affiliate, Amazon.