If you’d have asked me on Monday what my favorite Kanye West album was, I would have said My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a sentiment most critics would agree with.
I’m not sure anymore.
My doubts came after reading the NY Times Q/A that everyone was talking about this week.
Here’s what ‘Ye said:
“Dark Fantasy was my long, backhanded apology. You know how people give a backhanded compliment? It was a backhanded apology. It was like, all these raps, all these sonic acrobatics. I was like: “Let me show you guys what I can do, and please accept me back. You want to have me on your shelves.”
“It’s always going to be 80 percent, at least, what I want to give, and 20 percent fulfilling a perception. If you walk into an old man’s house, they’re not giving nothing. They’re at 100 percent exactly what they want to do. I would hear stories about Steve Jobs and feel like he was at 100 percent exactly what he wanted to do, but I’m sure even a Steve Jobs has compromised. Even a Rick Owens has compromised. You know, even a Kanye West has compromised. Sometimes you don’t even know when you’re being compromised till after the fact, and that’s what you regret.
I don’t want to come off dissing Dark Fantasy. It’s me never being satisfied and then me coming and admitting and saying the truth. As much as I can air things out for other people, to air things out for myself, to say, “I feel like this could’ve been stronger.”
It made me question why I love that album so much. It’s simple: it’s because I’m an ’80s baby at heart, and that album really was just 2010 boombap rap, minus an “All of the Lights” here, a “Lost In The World” there. Which is good, but not nearly forward-thinking enough for someone like Kanye.
So if that album is a backhanded apology, what is his upcoming sixth solo album, Yeezus?
I would say an eff you.
Like most people breathing, I’ve been spending the last couple of hours digesting Yeezus, and I find myself having a hard time trying to gauge how good it is.
I mean, it’s good, obviously, (‘Ye don’t do bad, folks) but is it great? Classic even?
I don’t know. I do know this: when 808s & Heartbreaks first dropped in 2008, I found myself admiring the music more than I enjoyed it. This changed after countless spins and now I love it like I love all of Kanye’s children.
I suspect the same thing will happen with Yeezus, partially because the albums sound related. (Do me a favor: listen to “See You In My Nightmare,” then give “Guilt Trip” and “Hold My Liquor” a spin.)
Here’s the trick with Kanye: people will hear the crazy yelling, the animal snarls, the various musical influences and think this is some spaced out ish.
But, buried under that is classic Kanye-style pop rap: Look at the opening track “On Sight,” and how it transitions effortlessly between clashing electronic music and classic soul; or “Black Skinheads,” a song that’s supposed to be super revolutionary, but — come on now — it samples one of the catchiest, most recognizable rock songs of all time; or did you peep how Chief Keef and Justin Vernon from Bon Iver did their best Future and Lil Wayne impression on “Hold My Liquor?” Yeah, those are the things that will keep you coming back, even if you don’t vibe with the screaming – yet.
Lyrically, Kanye is still very sharp. However, the revolutionary themes people have been going on about are overblown. (Which I can understand, considering the first two songs we’ve heard were “New Slaves” and “Black Skinheads.”)
This is the type of rap Kanye has been doing since College Dropout: mixing various types of bragging and boasting with social and religious imagery.
People are going to call this album dark. And it is. But it’s not dark in the way that most dark hip-hop music tends to be. Dark hip-hop tends to be more downbeat. Think classic Mobb Deep. Think classic Scarface. Think classic GZA.
Most of the songs here are loud and club-ready. The noisier the songs are, the more they work. “Send It Up,” which features a star-making verse from King L, “Blood on the Leaves” and “I Am a God” are all just sonic monsters.
(While listening, I instantly thought of Prince’s “1999,” a song that encouraged people to party even though the world was ending.)
I have a feeling that this is the album ‘Ye wanted to make after 808s. That’s if he didn’t have to do no “back-handed apology.”
We should all just fall back now, let Kanye do “dopeness.”
I see the blood on my timeline @Milkman__Dead
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