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There are many ways to describe Mr.West, unpredictable is the first one that comes to mind. Fans began to contemplate Yeezus’ motives closer to his album release after he stated: “slavery was a choice.” Despite many saying that they would not listen to his eighth studio album, “ye” miraculously debuted at #1 on iTunes. The LP is only seven tracks, which is a powerful number according to ‘Ye and plays for exactly twenty-four minutes.
“I think, in seven songs, you can get everything you want off, and we can have the most concise, strongest project ever.” – Kanye West
The cover art for “ye” was shot on Kanye’s iPhone on the way to the listening party in Wyoming. West explained that he found inspiration for the title because ‘ye is often used in the bible and he wanted to relate to more people. While at the release party, during an interview with Power 106’s J Cruz, the “Father Stretch My Hands” rapper admitted he went back to Wyoming after the blowup of his conversation pertaining to slavery at TMZ.
“I completely redid the album after TMZ. We just sat there and really honed in on the words because now it’s all headlines, it’s like 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 was about that topic. And I just let go. I was like, ‘Yo, I’ma just chill right now, let’s just keep making some music.’… As soon as stuff stopped going so perfectly [backlash towards TMZ interview], I was like, ‘I know what to do with this energy. I know exactly what to do with this.” – Kanye West
There are more reasons to love this album rather than throw shade on it. We can give praise to the themes, lyrics, use of samples, the mastering of the tracks, etc. Let’s take a stab at his intro track, “I Thought About Killing You.” West begins with a spoken word that sounds like a conversation between himself and his mirrored reflection. His thoughts on suicide and questioning what it means to truly love oneself are eye-opening. Some of the standout lines are, “The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest… And I think about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you..”
It’s rare that when an intro is amazing, that the follow-up matches in accordance, but thankfully that’s not the case for “Yikes.” “Yikes,” which is one of the best songs on the album, not up for dispute, touches upon addiction, drugs, and hospital visits. The best part of the track is the 808’s and Heartbreaks feel to it, all while staying true to Kanye’s fluidic rap flow similar to “Famous” on The Life of Pablo. He’s quite entertaining as well ending with, “That’s why I f**k with Ye, That’s my third person, That’s my bipolar sh*t, n***a what? That’s my superpower, n***a ain’t no disability. I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero!” Hot 97’s Peter Rosenburg confirmed that the hook for this track was indeed written by Drake. Quite frankly, that might explain why it’s one of the greatest hooks on this album.
“I think it came from me just going against mass opinion and I was able to find my voice. I just had to stand in front of that board every morning and ask myself, ‘Do these songs truly make me happy? Are these songs I want to play back? Do these songs make me cry'” – Kanye West (Interview with Big Boy TV)
Kanye shows a side of vulnerability that hasn’t been displayed on any of his tracks since his Late Registration days. “Wouldn’t Leave” and “Violent Crimes” are perfect examples of this. PARTYNEXTDOOR and Jeremih team up with Kanye to help portray his message of what it means to have someone who is loyal. He opens up about how his wife Kim Kardashian felt they were going to “lose it all” after his slavery comments. Giving her the option to leave, he then expresses gratitude that she decided to stay. He says, “For every down female that stuck with they dude through the best times, through the worst times, this for you.”
The father of two daughters ends his seven-track LP with “Violent Crimes,” educating his listeners on how having little girls changed his perspective on women, respect, and the world. Listen closely, and it’s hard not to miss melodic vocals from Ty Dolla $ign towards the end. This isn’t the first time that the duo has worked together. Ty Dolla $ign worked previously on The Life of Pablo’s “Real Friends.” West told J Cruz, “Whenever we get on joints together, it be like, ‘Yo.’ I’m just trying to go week after week after week and just improve the craft. Ty is one of the strongest artists that we have living and anything that I can do to support, get around, produce, take my hands, chop up everything, I’m with it.”
The track also features an ending voicemail from Nicki Minaj, who tells ‘Ye, “I don’t know how you saying it, but let ’em hear this” when explaining how he should spit one of his bars. The conversation brings up feelings of nostalgia, as Minaj draws a parallel connection to their collab “Monster” for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, back in 2010.
The album is strong and gets a solid 8.5 rating. West has found a way to say more by saying less. His joint album with Kid Cudi is expected to drop this upcoming Friday entitled, Kids See Ghost. If this is the type of work ‘Ye comes up with when renting out a studio in Wyoming for over a year, I highly suggest he keeps booking that ticket. It has led him on the flight to recovery and becoming a Mr.West we all know and love.
Top three songs that I feel are a must listen: “Yikes,” “Wouldn’t Leave,” and “Violent Crimes.”