On Ye, Kanye West attempts an artistic statement on mental health being a super power and not a disability.
It is standard procedure for an album due for release to thrive on the kind of drama leading up to Kanye West’s Ye.
First, Kanye made a return to Twitter where he got himself involved in an adult episode of the popular TV show, ”Kids say the darndest things”.
Then released a week earlier, Pusha T‘s Daytona album, solely produced by Kanye West rolled up a storm that saw arguably the biggest rapper around, Drake catch feelings as the duo got involved in a beef that yet again heightened not just Pusha’s profile but expectations for Ye.
Then the outdoor listening session at Wyoming the night before the album dropped, that saw Kanye West vibing with his fans on a rare night out.
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There are a range of topics that Ye’s album was expected to touch on, was he going to throw shots at Drake? Would his slave comments be worth a bar? What about his family, the mental depression that came to the fore weeks leading to the album? But for all of seven tracks, Ye delivered an anti-climax, as even he has come out to admit in a recent interview;
"I completely redid the album after [going on] TMZ," West said on the night of West’s Wyoming listening session event.
We just sat there and like, really honed in on the words. Cause also we know now, it’s all headlines and every bar can be used—you know, it’s even bars that we had about [slavery], I took a bar off the album… It was too sensitive. It talks about that topic and stuff. I was like, ‘Yo, I’ma just chill right now.’ Just keep making some music."
So what really is Kanye trying to say with this album? What is his message? What story is he telling this time and how does this inspire his listeners?
The album opener, ”I thought about Killing you” is everything you would expect from the new Kanye. The gaping lyrics, ”Today I thought about killing you, premeditated murder, you only care enough to kill somebody you love”, lays his mental state to fore, singing, talking and then rapping as the drums kick in, rapping about the demons in his head over the last couple of years and his constant struggles. This is quite chilling.
Yikes gets darker as he steps closer to the edge, touching on drugs and how he had a near death experience getting high, reserving a few lines for Russell Simmons, who made light of his health status in his recent comments, while also referencing North Korea and Ghandi.
After the gloomy theme of the first two tracks, All Mine which features Valee and Ty Dolla $ ign falls left off the curve as this is about sex talk and him wanting to hit it raw.
Wouldn’t Leave and No Mistakes casts some light on the album as on the former, he touches on the infamous slavery comment, They say, "Build your own," I said, How, Sway?, I said, Slavery a choice. They say, How, Ye?".
With help from PartyNextDoor, Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ ign, this turns out to be church music, soothing, reflective and charming. While the latter is soulful, as he admits, ”it’s been a shaky ass year”.
Ghost Town sounds like a remnant of his Yeezus experiment detached from what this present album represents, Production and sampling is genius levels, vocals come correct, but the more you listen, the more it sounds out of place for the project, like what really is this song about?
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The album closes with Violent Crimes, another really personal moment where he raps on how men act tough till they have a daughter in their life, ”Till niggas have daughters, now they precautious”. The track also touches on his views on women and befittingly ends with a voice note from Nicki Minaj.
The world doesn’t make any sense, so it follows that after the first set of listens, Kanye’s album doesn’t either.
While the music is at-times bold, letting us into his state of mind, it occasionally drifts as it fails to adequately paint the picture of the man he has become.
Separated from these facts and expectations, this album will rank notches higher as in its essence, growth and production choices, it comes out near perfect.
But this is Kanye, the franchise player of the genre, hip-hop’s most iconic figure in modern time, so emphasis will be placed on not just on the sound, but his lyrics.
While in one lines or name dropping North Korea, Kanye subtly references his recent controversies, lyrically, the project is not gripping, neither does it really engage its listeners, Ye fails to say anything new, especially about his political ideas or motives as it all sounds like a man given more these days to rhythm than actual words.
In all, Ye is a well put together body of work that peaks and stumbles at the same time, an album closed to the audience, yet open to his cries, and on this album, there are stories untold but enough glimpses into the ramblings of a musical genius, himself afraid of where his next experiments may lead.
3-Worth Checking Out