Kanye West released his sixth and latest studio album Yeezus two weeks ago and I've been listening to it ever since. Normally, I try to keep a measure of journalistic objectivity when reviewing new music, but Mr. West is a special case. His ego permeates his music so deeply that it’s impossible to talk about Kanye the Artist without mentioning Kanye the Celebrity. For instance, after upstaging Taylor Swift and his infamous on-air outburst, Kanye pulled out all the stops to win back the favor of his fans and critics alike. The result was a masterfully maximalist take on hip-hop, better known as his fifth album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In a recent interview with the NY Times, Kanye reframes MBDTF, in no uncertain terms, as his “long backhanded apology” to the public in a way that only an artist (and celebrity) of his caliber could pull off.
If MBDTF was Kanye’s polished and perfected gift to the people, then Yeezus is his unapologetic retraction. Just weeks before the album was to be submitted, he recruited legendary industry guru Rick Rubin (see: Run-DMC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, System of a Down, Neil Diamond, etc.) to master the existing studio work through his stripped-down approach to music. What Rubin found was a wealth of strong material that he saw as only partially finished and thought “it sounded like several more months of work had to be done.” But with just two days before the submission deadline, Kanye wrote the lyrics to two or three songs and recorded vocals for five. The result is an album running just over 40 minutes, his shortest LP to date, with no glitzy cover art or oversaturated marketing campaign to go along with it. In the spirit of his newfound “aspirational minimalism”, here’s my track-by-track review of the record in 140 characters or less:
[View the story "The Yeezus Review" on Storify]
Overall Rating: 9.2/10
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