Kanye West delivers 23 minutes of untamed, unruly tracks on “ye.”

Evan Balikos/Contributing Writer


“This the type of high that get you gunned down/ Yeezy, Yeezy trollin’ OD, huh/ Turn TMZ to Smack DVD, huh,” West ferociously raps on “Yikes,” suggesting that his statement he made about slavery on TMZ was a joke.

Kanye West is too big to fall. He can say what he wants, do what he wants, and still escape from the crowd of critics he created. If you have been following any of the news that appeared prior to “ye”—the highly anticipated eighth studio album from West—you would not be surprised to learn that it is about his beliefs, his persona and the paths he takes to avoid apologizing for what he says.

West is a master at spewing chaos and turning it into art: his debut, “The College Dropout” is a reclamation of his quick exit from education, his fourth album; “808s and Heartbreaks” is West grieving his mother’s death and a love lost in the form of emotional art pop; and “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” is the rapper’s own stunning analysis of the marriage between fame and morality.

West is struggling to pick up the pieces to rebuild his platform; he is always looking to change the subject. This is evidenced by the album artwork: a photo of snow-capped mountains with “I hate being Bi-Polar.” scribbled on top. Bi-polar disorder is known for its alternating periods of depression and mania – ergo a mental illness that West is very likely to be suffering from.

The beginning of the album depicts West’s thoughts about suicide and self-love at war with one another.

“I think about killing myself. / And I, I love myself way more than I love you. / The most beautiful thoughts are always besides the darkest,” West waxes poetically on the opener, “I Thought About Killing You.”  

Over a rumbling bass line and Francis and the Lights’ contorted vocals, West splits himself in half and displays two sides: one is manic, and the other is depressive. For a moment, it seems like this is going to be an album that’s all about mental health and coping with depression— something that is necessary as society becomes more educated on the subjects. Kanye goes for the expected and focuses on his politics, his drama with other rappers like Drake, his wife, Kim Kardashian-West and all his achievements that have afforded him fame and prosperity. This is an album about Kanye.

There are segments in the seven tracks that are completely scatterbrained, rushed or abruptly cut off. West’s last album, “The Life of Pablo,” exhibited these traits as well, but on “ye” the result is a soundscape that feels awkward and unfinished. West’s flow runs on autopilot—the details of his lyrics are so thematically varied and combined so haphazardly that they resemble words picked from a hat.

Even when he sounds like he is ad-libbing, he is a still a gifted wordsmith, a master of double-entendres and a comedian through-and-through. It speaks to the power of West as an artist that he casually reminds listeners of the times he has been chastised by the media. His confidence in what he is saying is more troubling.

And just like that, a move that almost killed his career had consequently resuscitated it. Kanye West creates his own world on “ye.” On “Violent Crimes,” he embraces the role of fatherhood, diving straight into overprotective dad tropes that go from hostile paternal intentions to imposing sanctions on his own daughter.        

“Don’t do no yoga, don’t do pilates/ Just play piano and stick to karate/ I pray your body’s draped more like mine/ And not like your mommy’s,” he raps back and forth as a lullaby-flavored synth sweetens the bitterness of the song.

Kanye West confesses that he didn’t feel the need to support women until he became a father, and this is perhaps the most toxic thing that he has ever contributed as an artist. Male fans may be reprimanded for the awful idea that a woman’s sexuality should be sanctioned. West sees women as either something to conquer, like on the aptly titled “All Mine,” or as something to cherish and be grateful for, which is exemplified on “Wouldn’t Leave.”

Money, sex, drugs, infidelity and fatherhood are all subjects that West doesn’t shy away from, but never entirely confronts. As a result, the album appears formless and unchallenging.

Despite the unwieldy digital layering and outrage-worthy lyricism, that Yeezy goodness still prevails on “ye.” “All Mine” is a club banger, with its sultry musical tones and slapping snares. “No Mistakes,” though its lyrical content runs in cumbersome circles between itself and the song before it, has an excellent sample of “Children Get Together” by The Edwin Hawkins Singers.

But by far the most valuable contribution that West gives us is “Ghost Town.” It is a gorgeous near five-minute arena rocker, complete with pounding drums, scorching guitar and exciting sound effects like lasers and jet streams that weirdly compliment its celebration of childhood.

“I’ve been trying to make you love me/ But everything I try just take you further from me,” Kid Cudi sings in the chorus, an interpolation of lyrics from the song it sampled: “Take Me For A Little While” by Vanilla Fudge.

This chorus conveniently places the theme of “ye” back on the abstract notion of loving something, but it is never clear who West wants us to love when all he can do is talk about himself.

On track one, Kanye West appears to want to kill himself, but by the middle of the album, those sentiments seem fallacious compared to all the self-worship and obligatory mentions he fits into his verses. When I saw the cover of the album, I thought that West was going to give up his schtick and finally have an actual conversation with his audience, but I guess Yeezy was trollin’ OD, huh?  


Featured photo taken from Flickr.

Be the first to comment on "Kanye West delivers 23 minutes of untamed, unruly tracks on “ye.”"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.