Album Look Back #7: Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’

Before we get started, wow! What a week it’s been! Last Wednesday, which is also the first of MANY days that I’ve missed on thursday email, since putting myself on a strict posting schedule, I (in consultation with my mom) decided to head back home to Georgia from New York because Miss Rona has the streets really messed UP. My mom was driving from GA to come scoop me on the following Sunday, so I had 4 days to pack all of my things up, prioritize on what I was bringing (which meant going through each bag 2-3 times carefully after the initial pack up), and clean the room I was renting and the bathroom I was using. We left NY on Monday morning, and I’m now sitting on a bed at my second cousin’s house in North Carolina (edit: I’m writing this is in many a location, so prepare yourself for several location changes lol). I’m hoping to pump out the stories I’ve missed over the past couple of days during the remainder of the drive down to GA and during my first couple of days back home. So soon I’ll be on my regular posting schedule once more! And to get me back on track, I have decided to focus the catch-up stories for last week (I missed an Album Look Back, MFOAT Album, and Top 5) on Kanye West. I decided this morning that I wanted to do Yeezus (2013) as the ALB album because it was very contentious for me, and I figured it could be helpful to just roll with the Ye for the next 3, so I’m not working myself too hard lol.

Since I’ve gone into my Kanye listening history already here, I won’t bore you with the details. But I do want to stress again how influential he has been in my life musically. So I guess I am going to bore you with the details lol. I don’t make music, I really have no business doing that lol (I did play clarinet for 7 years, though!), but I am an avid music listener. And that started with Kanye. I had never really listened to or sought out music on my own until my mom bought me my first CD player. She bought me several CDs with it (including Bow Wow’s Wanted (2005) and Mariah Carey’s Emancipation of Mimi (2005)), but the one that I always held tightly to was Ye’s Late Registration. Listening to that album introduced me to the types of sounds and stories that I like(d) to listen to. I knew that I liked hearing songs, but I didn’t know that I liked listening to music until I started listening to Kanye’s. It unlocked something in me I haven’t been able to let out of my life since. From then on, despite the antics, Kanye can, musically, do no wrong in my eyes.

HOWEVER, that view was challenged very strongly with Yeezus. I remember the first time I listened to it, I thought it was an absolute train wreck. There was too much going on, the verses weren’t hitting like that, and it just felt like something was missing. I vividly remember telling myself that there was no way I was THAT disappointed with a project from Kanye. There was NO WAY. So I re-listened to it immediately.

For me, Yeezus suffers from Lasers syndrome. Lupe Fiasco released Lasers in 2011, and for me, it was the beginning of a rough time for Lupe’s music that ended with Tetsuo & Youth (2015) (one of my favorite albums!). I don’t completely dislike Lasers, but I did at first. After giving it another couple of listens, I found some songs that I liked, but I also was still slightly disappointed with having such a subpar project from someone that didn’t think could release anything less than amazing. So I call that Lasers syndrome. We’ll add that to the thursday email dictionary lol.

One thing that I can say I love about Yeezus is how experimental Kanye is on it. He’s not one to shy away from experimenting with his music. And I’ve always felt like taking those kinds of risks reap high rewards, when done right. They allow artists the opportunity to reinvent themselves a thousand times over. That keeps their music and their sound fresh, and we keep listening to them. Kanye is one of the best examples of this.

I feel, though, that there was just TOO MUCH going on on Yeezus, to the point where it’s really difficult to find something to hang on to. I did NOT like how accosted my ears were by the techno/synth-driven “On Sight.” Plus, the hook is….questionable. Same with “Send It Up.” It just sounds like a bunch of sound lol that’s really the best way for me to describe it. It’s sort of analogous to you carrying a bag of metal down the stairs, your foot slips a little bit, and the bag goes tumbling down the steps. The metal starts clanging against everything and you’re left stressed. That’s what those songs feel like to me lol. And production is one of those things that I usually don’t have to worry about with Kanye, but a lot of my issue with this project comes from my issues with some of the production. There ARE some great moments of production on this project, including “Black Skinhead,” “Bound 2,” and “Guilt Trip,” that are just as experimental, but don’t feel rushed or disassembled. But even “Black Skinhead” sounded weird hearing it on the project, as opposed to hearing it as a single. Even though it’s the exact same song lol

The lack of true bars on this project is the other reason why I’m not really here for Yeezus, though some of that was redeemed on that second listen. Again, the verses just felt called in and underdeveloped. I don’t always expect Kanye to bar out, and sometimes ignorant Kanye is what I want (every song can’t be “Through the Wire” or “All Falls Down” lol). But on this particular project, it felt like the attention that he paid on previous projects wasn’t there on this one, especially since Watch the Throne (2011) and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) came out less than 4 years before. I mean y’all…”[Jay-Z] ain’t with you, he with Beyoncé, you need to stop actin’ lazy???” WHAT????

I actually had a lapse in my Kanye-fan memory and didn’t remember that MBDTF came out before Yeezus (until I had to type it in that previous sentence lol). Before I remembered that, I was thinking that MBDTF is what I wish Yeezus sounded like. (side note: my mom and I have resumed our drive down to GA and “All Falls Down” just started playing on the radio. Such a good song, right???) He had just as much of an experimental moment on MBDTF as he did on Yeezus, but it came together so much more seamlessly. We got to hear Kanye backed by some different sounds without it feeling clumsy. Also the features on MBDTF are perfection.

Like I said, Yeezus was redeemed a bit after that second listen, and there are some songs on the project that I legitimately enjoy, but as a whole, Ye seemed distracted and it seemed like he just wanted to drop sumn. I mean he did get married and have his first child very close to the release of the project, so it’s possible he was a little distracted. Luckily, Kanye West is one of the most talented people in the W O R L D, so it’s difficult for anything he makes to be completely horrible, but this album…this album wasn’t it.

Anyways, I have finally made it back home to GA and I’m in my bed writing this and listening to KevOnStage and his brother have a Kirk Franklin vs. Fred Hammond battle on IG Live. So I think I’m gonna finish that and rest my tired bones.

Featured Image Credit: https://genius.com/album_cover_arts/11466, edited by me 🙂


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