Yeezus

You’ve probably heard it by now, but we’d be doing you a disservice if we didn’t take the time to mention that this week marks the release of Yeezus, the sixth solo album from everyone’s favorite notorious  ego, Kanye West.  He took a break from dabbling in the fashion industry, disappeared from Keeping up with the Kardasians, locked himself in Bob Dylan’s old studio with producer Rick Rubin and pumped out a minimalistic album inspired, in part, by a Le Corbusier lamp. While none of that minimalism crosses over into the name of the album and some songs (“I am a God” being a prime example), the music itself is stark and aggressive. The soundscape is sparse (gone are the luscious samples and overproduction of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) and this allows Kanye’s lyrics to come to the fore. This is both a blessing and a curse. Kanye West the producer is an undeniable genius and this album’s sounds only enhances his reputation. However, Kanye West the lyricist has never achieved the same consistency, flipping between brilliance and foolishness. Kanye is a conflicted artist and seems happy to explore his internal contradictions in the public eye. He is laudably outspoken on the subject of racism but has a regrettably retrograde attitude about gender equality. His recent interview with the New York Times, by the excellent and amusing Jon Caramanica, gives an unprecedented view into Kanye’s complexities and inspirations and is worth reading. Nevertheless, whether you not you agree with his views, Kanye has produced a stunning album which effortlessly slides from polemic to introspection and is backed by some of the most arresting production we’ve heard in years. “Blood on the Leaves,” “Bound 2,” and “New Slaves,” which happens to feature Frank Ocean, are key tracks but there aren’t any obvious misses on the tracklist. Turn it up and enjoy.

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