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Kanye West - Yeezus (Throwback Album Review)

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

As we approach the end of Kanye West season, we come to 2013's experimental 'Yeezus'. Like Marmite, you either love or you hate this project, mainly because it's experiential - which will put the mainstream fans off who aren't very open minded, and for those who go in with an open mind it's either hit or miss. The production is the main attraction and deciding factor on this album - due to it's harsh, industrial experimentation. The production in my opinion is great and has range, with electronic, synth heavy, aggressive beats as well as some lowkey beat for you too enjoy. The lyricism on this album is as usual braggadocios and witty, but I also think at times it's a bit lazy or underwritten. Despite this, with imagery and poetic lines found through I still think that the lyrics are decent on a whole - just not as good as his other albums. Kanye's flow as ever is smooth, and even with these harsh beats he glides through them with that egotistical delivery we've all become accustomed too. The features (though not named) are also great on this album (especially God). They don't tend to play a major role but fit their part perfectly. Finally, there is a whole range of subject matter here from heartbreak and past relationships, to his extravagant lifestyle and social commentary on the injustices within America - and he explores these concepts well getting deep into them, especially on the track 'New Slaves'.

The album begins with 'On Sight' which had to grow on me a bit. The aggressive, industrial beat I now think is good - but it stops there and doesn't reach the heights of other instrumentals on this album. The track is literally to say he's back and as good as ever which he does with his classic wit and braggadocio giving us a good opener to the album. The next track 'Black Skinhead' is an incredible song. The rock-inspired dark beat with heavy drums is one of Ye's best beats ever as the song talks against racism and Kanye's relationship with the media. The flow and delivery of the verses make them pop out and it has nostalgia for being on the Sky Bet adverts - making it arguably my favourite song on the record. The cocky title of 'I Am a God' is the title of the next song. It's beat is fantastic again, consisting of electronic effects as well as a deep synth bass where Kanye compares himself to God and talks down on his haters. I think this is another good track, but it just doesn't stand out as much as Ye would be expecting it to. 'New Slaves' is the most conscious song on the album. Ye goes H.A.M as he speaks facts with great metaphors talking on how black people are still slaves to consumerism, the corruptions of institutions like prisons needing more "slaves" and challenging stereotypes. I mean the whole blood on the leaves imagery alone is powerful. This song here is amazing, and probably the best song on the album.

The halfway point of the album is marked with 'Hold My Liquor'. This track is slightly more poetic and has more storytelling than the others, as the beat is more lowkey, with a heavenly feel every now and then before these catchy synths build up to an epic electric guitar riff. The song is about battling his inner demons and he relates that to sleeping with his ex - this is where the two features come in. Justin Vernon is Ye's consciousness holding everything in and trying to control everything - which ultimately makes him depressed (his haunting vocals during this sound great). Chief Keef slots in well and represents Ye's more reckless side - which based off the verse you would say overcame he's more controlled side. It's a decent track but what stops it being great is it gets more tiring the longer it goes on - and it then just ends up going on for too long. 'I'm In It' again has a harsh instrumental, in fact it sounds like lasers from a video game shooting with distorted with 808s. Kanye's flow is so nice on the ear here, and his storytelling creates an image in your head. Justin Vernon's vocals are harsh with the beat them calm down with the beat - creating a perfect fit, while Assassin's hook is great despite his voice coming off a bit boring. The track (simply just about sex with this girl) is once again a good song but nothing mind-blowing. 'Blood on the Leaves' is a contender for song of the album. Its simple but effective lyrics paint an image over this piano beat, before a big grand drop comes in with heavy drums and trumpets - sounding absolutely amazing. The last verse, Kanye is more sarcastic and witty and he talks on the materialised world and the negatives of it compared to the rest of the verses focusing on an ex.

'Guilt Trip' again is a track with a unique, deep, aggressive instruments (and them catchy violins) as Kanye uses his autotune on this one. I'm not a huge fan of it being used here which stops it being a great song because everything else is good such as Kid Cudi's interlude and them distorted vocals from Popcaan. 'Send It Up' is decent as best. The screeching beat grew on me and I enjoy it now, but Kanye's braggadocios lyrics are basic and not impressive. Him and King Louie speak on their extravagant lifestyles, and while Louie had some good one liners - he just sounded a bit monotone on his verses. The finale to the album 'Bound 2' is a love song for Kim Kardashian - and is different to the other tracks because he uses his classic soul sample on this one - and it's a catchy one as well. The wordplay is good, bars are good and that Charlie Wilson bridge is really good meaning we end this album on a high.

To conclude, this was an experiment which paid off. It's not his best album, but every song on this album is decent or above and overall it's still great. The highs are high, but a lot of the songs are good - not mind blowing - and on an album this experimental I feel Kanye would've wanted them to be more mind-blowing than they were perceived.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: Black Skinhead, New Slaves, Blood on the Leaves, Bound 2



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