What is hip-hop? Is it a genre, is it a specific sound, is it a feeling? I once heard someone say it was a “lifestyle” … However you want to define it; I think it’s important to remember that it might be different for everyone. Some of us embrace it like a lifestyle; while other merely see it as a sound or genre, hell some don’t even understand it. I like to think of it as music’s one and only true “art” form. If done correctly, it never sounds the same… If created by the right person, it is timeless. To me, just like art, hip-hop to me is often misunderstood or misinterpreted. When you think of Kanye West, one should, by now realize that he paints with a very unique brush. His catalog to me holds masterpieces, while to others those same masterpieces can look like finger paintings. No matter how one perceives the final product it is hard to argue with the type of success Mr. West has had over the years. His newest offering is just as unique as the Scottish kilt wearing Chicago emcee is. Humbly titled, Yeezus, the 6th studio LP is only 10 songs in length and is his first solo album since 2010.
I can’t help but feel as if this picks up right where My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy left off, only a bit darker. I don’t even know if Darker is the right word, it simply has a different feel. The album opens up with On Sight. It has a very eclectic house sound with the usual Kanye boosting. The beat for most traditional hip-hop fans will get annoying and is a bit repetitive, but as Ye says “How much do I not give a F**k, let me show you right now before you give it up”. The lyrics are average at best, but it’s not that type of song. It is a great way to show the listener the album is going to a bit different.
Black Skinhead is next up, and I have to say this song to me is great! It sounds like something The White Stripes would make. With help from Daft Punk and Travi$ Scott, the song will connect with those fans who enjoy the occasional alternative track. However, I just want to remind Mr. West, that the famous 300 soldiers, who fought at The Battle of Thermopylae, were Greek … not Roman.
The third track which features Justin Vernon of Bon Iver is titled I am a God. I have to say that this is where Kanye starts to lose me a bit. The screams and the beat make it hard to enjoy the track. However, when Ye starts rapping about talking to Jesus, I can’t help, but recite along to each word. Other than that, the track is more mortal then Godly.
When I first heard that Mr. West and Mr. Ocean were going to be on a track together, I was ecstatic. After hearing it, I have to admit New Slaves is not what I expected… BUT this has to be my favorite track on the whole album. The beat, witty word play and soulful singing at the end makes it such a well-rounded track.
I personally despise Chief Keef, his hook on Hold My Liquor to me takes away from an amazing track. Justin Vernon once again assist a great bridge, the best part of the track to me is the production. Young Chop and Rick Rubin contribute blissfully drums with an elaborate guitar sound that to me makes the track that much better. Again, not your typical hip-hop sound, but when the music is good, does it matter?
I was hoping for a better beat from RZA on I’m In It, but I did enjoy Ye’s line … “Chasing love all the bittersweet hours lost, eating Asian pussy, all I need is sweet and sour sauce”. As the title and lyrics suggest, the track is all but Ye’s sexual activity. This is one of my favorite songs mainly because Kanye drops a few great lines.
Blood on the Leaves is straight out of 808’s and Heartbreaks, Ye once again jumps on the auto tune machine and sings a few sad bars about Ms.. well you know who. I don’t like the track, and I don’t think it fits well with the rest of the album. I could have done with something else, especially the end where it sounds like a dying cat is in Ye’s throat.
The KiD CuDi assisted Guilt Trip is another Auto tune creation, but surprisingly I don’t mind as much on this track. The beat is nice, the jazzy feel with the horns and catchy singing by Scottie is refreshing to hear. For me, it is definitely a standout track, with an album that gives you few options.