Music — 18 June 2013
Yeezus Walks: Quick Take on Kanye West’s Latest Effort

So, I listened to “Yeezus” four times.

And I definitely understand why it has met with mixed reaction, including memes of it being dumped into a recycling bin.

But I finally have formulated my opinion, untainted by such images or social media chatter.  Like to hear it?  Hear it goes?

Overall, I respect the man for challenging the status quo.  At this moment, mainstream rap is saturated with strippers, money throwing, violence and an exceptional amount of lyrical laziness as noted in this parody I co-produced some months back.

West fights back against the overpowering musical malaise, strenuously, with tracks including “New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead,” and through the haughty, but hurt-inside relationship themes in “Bound 2.”  From Ye’s performances to his projection of “New Slaves” on urban landscapes, he could teach his peers a thing or three about creativity.  And when he hits, he hits.  The messages and metaphors, at times, crash down so hard you feel like he sees clearly into the empty souls of your most foolish, Faceboasting friends and neighbors.

But I’m not a fan of his “808 and Heartbreaks”-style talk-singing, which factors a tad too prominently on this effort, for example in “Blood on the Leaves,” an odd juxtaposition between “Strange Fruit” and “Coldest Winter” with a little Master P thrown in for not so good measure.

Production-wise and lyrically, I much prefer the alternately lush and spare, soul-searching of “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”  It still takes me on a journey every time I listen to it.

I also wish that the “different” approach Yeezus has been howling about to audiences would include raising up off the laziest rap crutches of n-words, bitches and sexual positions–all of which hobble this outing.  Just as in “Birthday” and “Addiction” before it, he speaks so often of wanting threesomes, I feel like we should collectively ante up and send the man a stripper for every day of the week.

And let’s talk the unavoidable, referenced in the title.  I’m not appalled by his “Yeezus” moniker nor his so-called idolatry with “I Am a God.”  Truthfully, I was more disgusted with the excessive and naked materialism of “Watch the Throne.”  But I firmly agree with Big Ghostfase that, while not quite a blasphemer, Mr. West comes across like he’s trying to talk his immortality into being.  This ain’t Iyanla Vanzant or “The Secret.”  If it’s true, you ain’t gotta say it, right?

So, given all that, the question looms: Do I recommend adding it to the for-real/for-real collection, aka paying for it rather than free-streaming it to infinity?

Yes, I most definitely do.  Money talks.

Though West proclaims repeatedly he doesn’t need paltry peasant donations and just wants to make art, the labels need to see us put our money where our earbuds are…  It’s either that, or face another degenerative decade of 2Chainz, Waka Flockas, Chief Keefs and (gah) Lil Waynes patently demonstrating you can ride words snatched from a bathroom wall all the way to prosperity.

Music fans, artists, executives and labels can do better than the current process of converting the latest piece of street meat into a star.  When we rock with true go-getters, they sign true go-getters.  We need more Kendrick Lamars and J. Coles, and like him or not, ‘Ye helped paved the way for their expression.

But back to ‘Ye/Yeezus: Whether you think he acts more like a toddler than a titan of the industry, he aims dangerously high.  Let’s at least meet him halfway and encourage his peers to follow suit.

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