Last night in Wyoming (a four-word sequence I never thought I’d type), in what is probably the most bona fide imagining of “I never thought that hip-hop would take us this far,” Kanye West had a listening session full of celebrities and created the cover art for his remarkably-devoid-of-Trump, eighth solo album, ye.
The album drops in the aftermath of Kanye’s going full Donald Trump supporter, and you never go full Trump supporter. He also made some comments about slavery—I’m sure you remember those—and has been tangentially involved in the Pusha T-vs.-Drake beef that is seeming more and more like a TKO in favor of King Push with each passing day.
The seven-cut album (he’s stated that all of the albums dropping from the GOOD Music camp will have seven cuts) is interesting in good and (mostly) bad ways. Here are 10 thoughts:
1. Musically, the album sounds like a bunch of unfinished thoughts. This isn’t, by itself, a bad thing. Dilla’s Donuts is basically a bunch of musical ideas he had but never got a chance to see through and it’s brilliant. However, in Kanye’s case, he’s relying heavily on super-basic sounds.
The shit sounds like a bunch of outtake beats from Yeezus, which, while not terrible, is also his worst album. This album takes the place of Yeezus on the bottom of the Kanye album list, as it sounds like that album without any of the focus or direction.
2. If you were to tell me that Kanye started this album last week, I’d believe you. It sounds rushed, unpolished and, ultimately, pretty lazy. Shit, if you were to tell me he started this on Tuesday; recorded the whole thing, including the guest parts, in one day; and mixed and mastered it the next day, I’d believe it.
I know he’s had folks out in Wyoming working on music; maybe he was mostly focused on everybody else’s albums. It basically sounds like seven iterations of “Ye vs. the People”—kind of a good idea with a mixed bag of results.
3. That’s not to say that everything is bad. It’s just that the good ideas aren’t seen through to what we’ve come to expect from standard Kanye musical excellence.
For instance, “Ghost Town” with Kid Cudi sounds like the most finished song on the album. It features some classic Kanye sample chops and production. And yet it also still feels like an incomplete thought.
This may sound ungenerous, but it is literally the only song on the entire album for which I find any long-term listenability. And real spit? I am highly likely to never listen to this album again once we get past the think piece phase of ye.
4. Drake implied that he was heavily involved in the writing of the shit on The Life of Pablo. It’s typically pretty evident when Kanye has writers working with him. This album sounds like he had none; unlike on other projects, the lyrics are not as tight as they could be.
Regarding the writing, Kanye could have used an editor because this shit is pure id versus ego, but as opposed to somebody like Cam’ron, who is a really good writer (don’t debate me; he is), Kanye is a very clumsy writer, and it shows. He probably should have called a friend or two, and if that did happen, he needs real friends. See what I did there?
5. Kanye addresses his slavery statements on “Wouldn’t Leave” by largely doing the Kanye thing of putting himself and his conviction over everything else, saying that he had to calm Kim down over it and told her she could leave if it was too much (basically), but she wouldn’t because that’s his wife and they’re in this together.
Largely, Kanye believes in Kanye and loves Kanye more than he loves everybody else, which he makes clear on “I Thought About Killing You.”
6. Part of me thinks that the scattershot nature of the album is intentional. The album art includes the wording “I hate being bi-polar It’s awesome.” Perhaps the entirely up-and-down nature of the album (there are total emotional pendulum swings) is intended to illustrate the effects of mental health issues on Kanye. But I also don’t want to let this nigga off the hook, since he himself doesn’t view being bipolar as a hindrance.
On “Yikes,” he states that to him, it’s not a disability, it’s his superpower. I’d hate for this to become some treatise on the effects of mental instability when Kanye almost makes light of it. I suppose, though, if that ends up being something that causes more empathy for folks struggling with mental health issues, then that’s a good thing? I really don’t know.
7. More “Yikes.” For a married motherfucker, he sure does (still) talk a lot about smashing other women. He also seems to feel like women absolutely love him no matter what. For that reason, “Yikes” is very appropriately titled because I listen to it and feel like, “What the fuck is wrong with this dude?” He’s like J.R. Smith at the end of regulation in Game 1 all through this song. We’re all LeBron, if that isn’t that clear.
8. I almost wonder if this isn’t the long form of his troll song “Lift Yourself.” Maybe this is Kanye showing us that no matter what he does, he’ll still dominate the conversation musically and culturally because he’s Kanye. Maybe he is as Teflon as he thinks he is because despite how many of us were completely turned off by his antics, this album will be listened to and dissected ad nauseam.
9. There are going to be people who swear this album is a classic and place it as one of Kanye’s best works. Do not trust these people. Never trust a Yeezus freak; these are people who absolutely love Kanye no matter what. This isn’t a bad thing for them; they just do not have an objective bone in their body. Trust me, I’m a blogger.
10. With all that being said, I very much look forward to all of the think pieces about the (faux) depth that is about to be attributed to ye. Kanye said that slavery was a choice, and people came out with 2,000-word explanations and videos of what Kanye meant to say because it’s impossible that nigga meant exactly what he said.
This summer is just getting started, and love him or hate him, Kanye is absolutely about to rule it, whether we like it or not.