I’d hoped for a pile of poop covering one or two good songs, instead I got that poop monster from Dogma. Actually that might be overly rude. Most of what’s here is poop, but there are a few ok songs as well. Even so, they’re just ok and I’ll forget them in a month or less. So yeah, I’m disappointed, but only slightly.
First, this barely sounds like hip-hop. It’s a guy rapping, often just yelling, over some other shit, mostly electronic-soaked weirdness. It doesn’t always sound bad, I actually like Black Skinhead and some others. The reliance on distortion and sounds played at max volume was initially off-putting, but eventually I saw the matrix and understood what I was hearing. Even after reaching this point, I didn’t like most of what I heard though. Too much techno for my tastes.
Case in point, On Sight starts off with some loud distortion and so far so good, I’m hoping for a cool off-kilter song. Then the beat drops and it’s just 2 distorted samples put together in a one-bar loop that gets old instantly. The beat sounds like R2D2 sounds sampled on the world’s first Casio then played really loudly because…everybody likes clipping right?
Then there’s the lackluster lyrics. Black Skinhead is kinda funky, in that it sounds like it was made to get played in white high school locker rooms right before the football team runs on field. I like it because the energy is infectious, but the raps killed me. I’m sure the dorks on rapgenius will claim otherwise and see deep metaphors in each line because “everything’s up to interpretation.” Screw that, the song is dumb. Period. But the bass sounds like an earthquake, so turn your brain off and have some mindless fun.
In On Sight, we get this gem:
Baby girl trynna get a nut, and her girl trynna give it up/
Chopped em both, don’t judge ’em Joe Brown/
A Judge Joe Brown punchline? Seriously?
Bad jokes aside, there’s a lot of vulgarity here, even for a Kanye album. I’m In It has some of the grossest lyrics I’ve heard outside of horrorcore, they make Too Short sound refined, and the whole song sounds like the soundtrack to the worst fetish porn.
New Slaves is probably the song everyone will point to as thought-provoking, but to me it’s as profound as “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” (i.e. not profound at all) but without the timeliness and resulting impact. Pointing out Black materialism was cool on All Falls Down, all those years ago, but now I expect you to do more than just describe it. And the Illuminati/white people are out to keep Black people down conspiracy theories don’t impress me. This is all old hat for Kanye, and there’s no insight that builds on these oft-made conclusions.
My third issue is probably the root cause for every other thing I don’t like about Yeezus. Kanye’s ego is super inflated, I think beyond his talent level, to the point where he’s stopped trying to be good at the basics but thinks he can do monumental things. Those cute puns and punchlines that he used to work so hard on are mostly gone, replaced by horrible singing that totally relies on autotune to be palattable, and 6th-grade sex jokes.
Meanwhile, Yeezus is a bunch of reaches for greatness that fail for various reasons. Blood on the Leaves is great, especially with its emotion and Strange Fruit samples, even with its bad singing and theft of C-Murder’s Fuck Them Other Niggaz, until Kanye moans into an autotune for a minute and a half and ruins everything. New Slaves only pretends to contain depth. Bound 2 is really decent, the closest we get to old Kanye, but since current Kanye has nothing new to say at all, the best part is Charlie Wilson’s bridge.
So yup it’s a Kanye album. Could’ve been 40 times better but has glimpses of decency, if not goodness. As usual, I’m left disappointed. If Kanye were half the artist he thought he was this would a masterpiece, but I’d be happy if he could ever again just be content making good music.