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Kanye West – Yeezus

Image For Kanye West – Yeezus

Kanye’s still mad even though he’s rich, writes JODY MACGREGOR in response to Yeezus.

In a recording room in Paris, Kanye West leans over the console. His hand hovers above the dials, his eyes flicking back and forth. Finally, decisively, he reaches for a knob marked “FEROCITY” and turns it all the way up. Rick Rubin nods appreciatively. In the background, Daft Punk seem to shiver for an instant. Is it an illusion, or a temporary glitch, or is it possible for robots to know fear?

The intern who brings their morning pastries is running late.

The more people hate Kanye West the more hungry he sounds. After lazily loping through his own subconscious on 808s & Heartbreak, Taylor Swiftgate happened and he had to record My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to prove to us that he was worth all the trouble. Which he did, handily. And now that he’s made both an album showing off all his talented friends and Watch the Throne, an album where respectable family man Jay-Z endorsed him at length, he gets to cut loose again. But instead of lazy indulgence, this time what came out is rage.

Although Yeezus isn’t dripping in expensive cameos like studded diamonds it does feature a lot of producers. Daft Punk, Rick Rubin, Hudson Mohawke, Mike Dean, the Heatmakerz, West himself and several more, often credited six-deep per track. Apparently it takes six other producers to make one Aphex Twin, because that’s the kind of ominous industrial electro he’s backed by for most of Yeezus. It’s dark as anything but able to turn uplifting at any moment, synths and drum machines giving way to choral samples as if it’s the most natural thing in the world when it should be as incongruous as your local church group invading a Nine Inch Nails concert.

KANYE REACTS TO ‘YEEZUS’ REVIEWS

Religious analogies come easily and not just because the album’s called Yeezus. There’s a song called ‘I Am a God’ that’s even more egomaniacal than you would expect a song called ‘I Am a God’ to be. What is Kanye a god of anyway? Hip-hop? Self-belief? Vanity? Being provocative? Like Zeus it seems as if the main thing he wants to do with godhood is use it to get his penis inside stuff.

In ‘On Sight’ he enjoys rapping about putting his dick in someone’s mouth almost as much as Nicki Minaj does. The song is full of impressively crass lines about the effect Kanye’s presence has on the club he’s in, like “Soon as I pull up and park my Benz/We get this bitch shaking like Parkinsons”. He’s been saving up all these zingers and now he’s raining them down on us like dollar bills.

“Kanye’s specialist subject is still Kanye.”

‘I Am a God’ opens with a reference to ‘Monster’ and ‘Black Skinhead’ references ‘Power’, giving him another superhero theme song. (It also uses a shuffle beat that depending on your age you’ll either think he pinched from Marilyn Manson or Gary Glitter, or if you’re really young maybe Battles). He goes back further into his own back catalogue on ‘Bound 2’, rapping over the kind of soul samples he favoured on his first albums. But it’s ‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone’ off Late Registration that I keep being reminded of – the way it brought up the politics of conflict diamonds only to toss the idea away in favour of letting Jay-Z rap about how his label was doing.

All the stuff about racism in America on Yeezus is there to provide context for why Kanye’s still mad even though he’s rich. In ‘Blood On the Leaves’ he samples Nina Simone’s ‘Strange Fruit’ but ignores its subject matter, using a song about lynchings as the basis for another song about gold diggers. But then the killer horns from TNGHT’s ‘R U Ready’ kick in, and it’s hard to find fault in something this bombastic and ludicrous. Which sums up the whole album, really.

‘Strange Fruit’ is also referenced in ‘New Slaves’, which does a better job of actually going somewhere with its politics (and, no surprise, the Frank Ocean outro sounds much better than it did recorded on a phone pointed at a building). But Kanye’s specialist subject is still Kanye and even if each album where that remains true brings him another step closer to recreating that scene in Being John Malkovich (“Malkovich Malkovich? Malkovich!”) his navel-gazing remains the best and most fascinating navel-gazing around.

In ‘Send It Up’, another song about a girl in a club, he raps, “Tight dress dancing close to him/Yeezus just rose again.” Does that mean Yeezus is just the nickname he calls his penis? The stand-up routine Aziz Ansari gets out of this album is going to be hilarious.

Yeezus is out today (June 18) on Universal Music Australia.

9/10 stars

Comments

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loudQUIETloud

loudQUIETloud said on the 18th Jun, 2013

The best description I've heard is still:
"If 808s and heartbreak was a person, and that person started doing lots of heroin and hanging out with Trent Reznor, that would be Yeezus."

Dogrockdog

Dogrockdog said on the 18th Jun, 2013

forgive me my ignorance,but does he just go into studios with a poem/ rap and pay handsomely for producers to trick it up ?ala madonna etc. just me? he has talent ,but is it producing with others tricks ,beats etc.just asking???

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 18th Jun, 2013



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LwUfEq3rts

sarahanne

sarahanne said on the 18th Jun, 2013



Was just having this convo in the office. No he writes tunes. Kanye started as a producer, so he is very involved. It's not like a popstar with 5 producers thing.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 18th Jun, 2013



Kanye West is an amazing hip-hop producer. He collaborates with other producers to create the beats and I imagine he certainly has the final say.

Rick Rubin is the best thing to happen to Yeezy, production wise, since No I.D.

Like most, I don't think his lyrics on this are as good as MBDTF but I think they serve the purpose of the songs perfectly. He also makes it rain with one liners. "Put my fist inside her like the civil rights sign."

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 18th Jun, 2013

This is all I can hear when anyone dismisses Kanye.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tWmyPMf3wU

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 18th Jun, 2013



A common critique of Kanye, especially in the days of his earlier albums, is that he was usually outclassed on the mic by his featured guests. And while I agree to extent it never bothered me because you listened to Kanye as the whole package. The sample blending and layering were all him as much as his best lines were.

He was always responsible for everything making that song great, even if it was selecting someone else to kill it on the track with him. Kanye West is more than just a rapper, he's a song craftsman.

Nowonderimconfused

Nowonderimconfused said on the 18th Jun, 2013

i eagerly await the yeezus/the reminder mash-up, inevitably titled yeezus feist.

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 19th Jun, 2013

i have the feeling that Yeezus will translate on to the live stage better than any of his previous albums. if there's one thing Kanye does better than producing hip hop it has to be putting on an incredible live show. the aggressive confronting nature of this album will add even more energy to the concert.

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 19th Jun, 2013

Seems like he's going to do a proper tour for this album as well, unlike MBDTF.

tyler07

tyler07 said on the 19th Jun, 2013

I have listened to this album like 7 or 8 times now and it only continues to get better on each listen. I love every track.

Bring on the Yeezus tour.

RocknrollHendo

RocknrollHendo said on the 19th Jun, 2013

best review I've seen of the new Kanye album

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50LyF-tMZHU

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 19th Jun, 2013

best review I've seen of the new Kanye album

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50LyF-tMZHU

WRONG! GHOSTFACE KILLAH HAS THE BEST YEEZUS REVIEW OF ALL TIME!

“On Sight” – Imma keep it all the way real wit yall…the way this shit started had me wishin for the days of unnecessary Mr West skits… maybe even Nicki Minaj recitin some bullshit ass limerick in a British accent or whatever… Soon as I heard the electro shits start up I knew what the fuck was bout to happen… This shit like BLOOP BLUHHH BLEEP BLOOP BLUHHH BLEEP BLOOP BLUHHH BLEEP BLOOP BLUHHH BLEEP BLOOP BLUHHH BLEEP TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK BLOOP BLUHH BLEEP BLOOP BLUHHH BLEEP…soundin like he made a beat n threw the Atari filter on that shit when it was done. The hook like BLUH BLUH BLUH ON SIGHT BLUH BLUH BLUH ON SIGHT… I kno it aint paintin a vivid picture for yall muthafuckas who aint heard the shit yet but trust me…shit is accurate. Took me bout 200 listens before I saw any value in this shit. It aint my favorite track or nothin but I aint mad at it really. Probably be kinda dope at a show…….in the middle of a desert…….on Mars……wit Chinese acrobats shootin outta cannons from one side of the stage to the other n this shit blastin out some big ass speakers at 70 billion gigahertz n whatever..Ionno…

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 20th Jun, 2013

Fuck, that was a headache to watch. Stopped after 90 seconds.

jacegalvin

jacegalvin said on the 20th Jun, 2013

I've listened to Yeezus probably like 4 or 5 times and I really enjoy it, it has some great production and some good verses and I like how he's going for more industrial hip hop style beats.
But in my opinion it doesn't even hold a candle to MBDTF.
Even though Yeezus has some real standout tracks like New Slaves, Black Skinhead, I am a God, Blood On The Leaves, etc.
I just really enjoyed songs like All Of The Lights, Lost In The World, Dark Fantasy, Runaway so much more than these.

Maybe I just need to listen to the songs on Yeezus more, but the songs on MBDTF just seemed to have more substance.

loudQUIETloud

loudQUIETloud said on the 20th Jun, 2013

This is the real best review of Yeezus.
[youtube]hrHE-SRF8-I[/youtube]

RocknrollHendo

RocknrollHendo said on the 20th Jun, 2013



oh you missed the yeast infection bit!

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 20th Jun, 2013

What a shame. My life was really leading up to that very moment.

jacegalvin

jacegalvin said on the 20th Jun, 2013

No need to be a dick dude.

RocknrollHendo

RocknrollHendo said on the 20th Jun, 2013

but that's the MAB I've grown to love

p1owz0r

p1owz0r said on the 20th Jun, 2013

I've listened to Yeezus probably like 4 or 5 times and I really enjoy it, it has some great production and some good verses and I like how he's going for more industrial hip hop style beats.
But in my opinion it doesn't even hold a candle to MBDTF.
Even though Yeezus has some real standout tracks like New Slaves, Black Skinhead, I am a God, Blood On The Leaves, etc.
I just really enjoyed songs like All Of The Lights, Lost In The World, Dark Fantasy, Runaway so much more than these.

Maybe I just need to listen to the songs on Yeezus more, but the songs on MBDTF just seemed to have more substance.

I prefer to think about it in terms of where the funniest lyrics are.

MBDTF had have you ever had sex with a pharoah, but Yeezus has hurry up with my damn croissants.

I can't pick

John Henry Eden

John Henry Eden said on the 20th Jun, 2013

I seriously don't understand that critical acclaim for this album. Is it just because it is Kanye? If someone with no history had put this out would anyone care nearly as much?

The production is good, clearly the best part about the album. Though nothing really new... industrial hip hop acts have had this sound for a while and a lot of this album sounds like Death Grips. That said I still very much so enjoy the production.

The lyrics are rubbish. Really. They feel so rushed, and have even less depth and intelligence to them as most Kanye lyrics. The rhymes are very elementary and simplistic, word play is very basic too and the actual lyric content doesn't really say anything new/different except Kanye's having a go at racial context now.

I am a god
hurry up with my damn massage
hurry up with my damn menage
get the porche out the damn garage

I am a god
even though im a man of god
my whole life in the hand of god
you better stop playing with god.

Horrible lyrics. Seems like he wrote them in five minutes.

berlinchair101

berlinchair101 said on the 20th Jun, 2013





Death Grips.

You just answered your own question.

doubtfulsounds

doubtfulsounds said on the 20th Jun, 2013

Musically Kanye is a self conscious and obvious redux of Tricky 20 years too late with some Death Grips abrasion thrown in for good measure. In terms of lyrics and flow he's a lightweight. If indie kids get drawn in by the likes of Justin Vernon they could do themselves a favour and listen to the latest Colin Stetson LP for challenging musical composition with guest vocals.

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 20th Jun, 2013



6 Aus shows over 2 visits. that's proper enough for me.

monokhrome_nite

monokhrome_nite said on the 20th Jun, 2013

MBDTF seemed more like a few festival jaunts than an actual tour, like the one for Watch the Throne.

sarcasm_mister

sarcasm_mister said on the 20th Jun, 2013



yeah nah i was kidding. it's a great shame more people didn't get to witness that incredible show. *fingers crossed* his next tour will be something comparable.

MorningAfterboy

MorningAfterboy said on the 20th Jun, 2013



Oh, totally. Peas in a pod.

squagz

squagz said on the 20th Jun, 2013

Album plays it safe. Least that Heartbreak shit was something out of leftfield. Dark Twisted Fantasy had ambition. This album sounds like a music snob's best of 2011 list. A time when no critic could be considered hip unless they dropped terms like noise rap or post dub step (cringe) into their dialogue. Yeezus is stuff that's been tried and tested and acclaimed. It's masquerading as a boundary pusher, but not putting anything at risk. It's accomplished, but not exciting. Lyrics still suck.

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 20th Jun, 2013

i've always been a pretty light kanye fan, only owned the college dropout and late registration until i picked up yeezus, and mbdtf, in the last few days. yeezus was the first kanye album i have ever sat down and listened to in full (have done so with the other 3 i own now also).

i really enjoyed the tempo/vibe of yeezus; black skinhead, new slaves, and bound 2 are my favourites. he's not a particularly good writer, but he does what works for him and these albums will now be on constant rotation in my car. for me the most interesting part was listening between the college dropout where his ego is developing from this arrogant guy who is always second guessing what everyone else thinks of him, to yeezus; where he knows everyone is on his dick and can pretty much write up whatever he likes now and it'll be called trendsetting or visionary, even if it's been done or will never catch on. which i suppose is the good thing about yeezus, death grips aside, i couldn't see this sound working for an unknown act.

Daft Punks Lip Sweat

Daft Punks Lip Sweat said on the 20th Jun, 2013

i've always been a pretty light kanye fan, only owned the college dropout and late registration until i picked up yeezus, and mbdtf, in the last few days. yeezus was the first kanye album i have ever sat down and listened to in full (have done so with the other 3 i own now also).

i really enjoyed the tempo/vibe of yeezus; black skinhead, new slaves, and bound 2 are my favourites. he's not a particularly good writer, but he does what works for him and these albums will now be on constant rotation in my car. for me the most interesting part was listening between the college dropout where his ego is developing from this arrogant guy who is always second guessing what everyone else thinks of him, to yeezus; where he knows everyone is on his dick and can pretty much write up whatever he likes now and it'll be called trendsetting or visionary, even if it's been done or will never catch on. which i suppose is the good thing about yeezus, death grips aside, i couldn't see this sound working for an unknown act.

http://i40.tinypic.com/2j3ofp2.jpg

I'm drunk. It's the best I could do.

oldgregg

oldgregg said on the 20th Jun, 2013

hahahahaha that's glorious.

bboy

bboy said on the 21st Jun, 2013

i havent listened is it better than butterfingers?

flat_eric

flat_eric said on the 23rd Jun, 2013



I find it lacks the complexity/swag of songwriting about mandarines

The Great Monkey War

The Great Monkey War said on the 24th Jun, 2013



I don't think so. With the sizeable fanbase that he commands and the commercial success he's had in the past (see: hits from his first three albums still get played at bars and nightclubs), this seems like a pretty big risk to me (as was 808s). Even MBDTF chose to be an album experience (and didn't have a top 10 hit). He's concsiously chosen not to be radio fodder. I don't actually know what he could do for you to consider him not "playing it safe". Taking this sound to the masses is an honorable move.

Oflick

Oflick said on the 24th Jun, 2013

^Yeah, I agree.

When judging how risky an album is, you have to consider who made it. If an avant-garde artist made this album, it wouldn't be risky (or it might be, but for different reasons). However, you have to take into account that it was made by someone with a massive fanbase, a large chunk of which might not have ever been seriously exposed to this kind of music.

To put it another way, it's not risky for Cannibal Corpse to release a death metal album. But if Taylor Swift were to suddenly release a death metal album, obviously it would be different (and quite possibly awesome).

ecker

ecker said on the 3rd Jul, 2013

anybody listened to his new album yeezus?
its actually pretty good stuff. not commercial sounding but more dark and industrial

grattan

grattan said on the 29th Aug, 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_7rA7cZRIk