There’s nothing careful or clean about West’s sixth album. It’s angry and guttural and unlike anything the man has done before.
Review by David Feltman
Despite his bizarre and chaotic pop personality, Kanye West’s skills as a producer and an artist are meticulously polished. West’s tracks have always been carefully built on catchy clean hooks custom built for clubs and radio airwaves. His music is that special kind of commercial, not consumed en masse because of cookie cutter blandness, but because it is genuinely great.
That said, there’s nothing careful or clean about West’s sixth album. It’s angry and guttural and unlike anything the man has done before. Long gone are the clever, esoteric Luther Vandross and King Crimson samples. Instead West drops a sample of Marylin Manson’s “The Beautiful People” for his new single, “Black Skinhead.” The track, co-written by Daft Punk, is carried solely by raw rhythm and aggression, climaxing with West shouting “God! God! God!” It’s not a typical hip-hop single.
In fact, nothing on this album resembles what might be considered a “normal” hip-hop song. “Yeezus” is defined by its jagged edges, moving from rage to angst to pathos with knee-jerk impulse. The beats are minimalistic and visceral; the vocals are screamed and shouted. The samples are often heavily distorted and altered beyond recognition. Everything about this album, from the lyrics to the arrangements, is obsessed with destruction. “You love me when I ain’t sober. You love when I’m hung over,” snaps West on “Hold My Liquor,” as if he’s disgusted with the public fascination with his own persona.
Most artists with West’s popularity and fan base quickly become complacent and self-plagiarizing, but perhaps it’s the same volatile personality that keeps West in the tabloids that keeps his music from growing stale. It’s a rare treat to hear something revolutionary for the first time and “Yeezus” definitely offers that. This is the sort of album that ends a career because it just can’t be topped.