After the previous months being chockfull of a full-on twitter account revival, controversial endorsements of Donald Trump, and spouting off the opinion that slavery was a choice, Kanye West finally dropped some music of his own.
Ye, the follow-up to The Life of Pablo, dropped at midnight on Friday, accompanied with a live listening party at Kanye’s ranch at Wyoming. He had been holed up there for months, producing multiple albums including Pusha T’s Daytona and Nas’ upcoming album. With the amazing production work on Pusha T’s album, the music world was encouraged and was excited to hear what Kanye would do for himself. Momentarily, we forgot about Kanye the person and just focused on Kanye the musician. Furthermore, with the production work on his single, “Lift Yourself,” a lot of people speculated that he would return to the soul-dependent sample style that made him famous. People were even ready to ignore the ridiculous lyrics on the song if it meant that he would still produce heat.
When the album released, people who watched the livestream of the listening party were gassed up by the energy and hype surrounding the event. That is why I didn’t listen until the hype had subsided during the middle of the day. Upon listening to it, I realized one thing: Kanye stopped saving the best beats for himself. It seems that he was trying to tap into a weird, experimental vibe, but he missed the mark ever so slightly. It’s not that it was bad, it’s that he got away from the aspects that make his production legendary.
His self named work acts as an introspective work, as he raps about his recent controversies. He delves into his relationship with his wife, Kim Kardashian, and Tristan Thompson’s cheating troubles. I’m going to be honest, this is some of Kanye’s worst rapping in a while. It seems that he traded in his bars when he bought that Make America Great Again hat. The worst rhymes on the album came from “All Mine”, where he says, “All these thots on Christian Mingle / Almost what got Tristan single.” Yeah it was funny, but that’s an atrocious line. I didn’t think that it would get worse, but it did, when he rapped, “Let me fuck it raw fuck the outcome / Ayy, none of us would be here without cum.” Come on, bro.
There were indeed bright spots on this album. “Wouldn’t Leave”, which acts as a love song/apology to his wife, is backed by a fantastic combination of a beautiful piano and drum beat. “No Mistakes” had his best sample work, where he called upon two legends to support the track. He sampled Slick Rick’s “Hey Young World”, and had Charlie Wilson, the patron saint of R&B, deliver his god-tier vocals on the hook. Personally, my favorite track was “Ghost Town,” which coincidentally had the least amount of Kanye. Kid Cudi, a longtime Kanye collaborator, and 070 Shake, NJ rapper and singer and one of G.O.O.D Music’s latest signees, carry the track.
Kanye’s latest work was his most inconsistent one. He went between maniacal and self-indulging to introspective in a heartbeat. This isn’t one of his best albums by a long shot. Anyone that says that this was one of the best works they’ve ever heard is lying to you. The album doesn’t do anything to clear up or explain his actions in the recent months. He sometimes hits the mark and sometimes doesn’t. However, he did enough to get a lot of people to keep listening and to continue to pay attention to him. The album itself can act as a microcosm for his career as a whole. His actions are wildly inconsistent. He can disappoint you, he can dazzle you, and the thing is, a lot of us will continue to listen.