Take a deep breath; you’re going to be fine. Or maybe not. But either way, you survived 2015 and can rest easy knowing the first/worst month of the year is over (Morgan is celebrating somewhere). February will provide all you have ever needed: Kanye West’s seventh LP.
Three years have passed since his last release, and there exists on that album a crude, manic Kanye we may never hear again. Yeezus is its title, an oftentimes over-looked but nonetheless essential aspect in understanding the depths of how dark the music is. Yeezus, as the character or speaker of the album, is a narcissistic, egomaniacal, self-called deity whose name comes from a combination of Jesus’ with West’s nickname “Ye”. This Kanye was a soon-to-be-father, and had recently ended a fruitful relationship with Nike, spawning his angst against corporations. Now, with a wife and two kids, his priorities have shifted.
He teased this on Yeezus’ closing track, “Bound 2,” the only song in a major key on the whole album. “Maybe we can still make it to the church steps” he raps to an unnamed audience, presumably Kim Kardashian (now Kardashian-West). Other songs like “I’m In It” and “Send It Up” are outright evil-sounding, but Kanye’s impetus behind writing such a depraved album can be discovered by studying what he’s been saying since then.
After a year-and-a-half of hot-tempered interviews, otherworldly tours that included , and Yeezus dust-settling, Kanye surprise-released the song “Only One” on December 31, 2014. Juxtaposing this poignant Paul McCartney collaboration with the explicit vulgarity of Yeezus, it is hard to recognize a common author. Kanye’s authorial voice is actually removed from the song, as it’s written from the perspective of his deceased mother. In an interview with Power 105, he says “Only One” is a generational study, spanning four generations, from his grandmother down to his own daughter, North West. For those doubting the separation between Yeezus and Kanye, look no further than this song. Gone is the egomaniac, replaced instead with a first-time father, just-married husband, and still-grieving son.
Following “Only One,” two rather disappointing singles came out. Paul McCartney had a hand in creating all three, lending the jangling keyboard to “Only One,” the solitary acoustic guitar to “FourFiveSeconds,” and the 20-year old whistled melody to “All Day.” McCartney’s involvement speaks volumes about Kanye’s career, but for such a combination to have produced as uninteresting a song as “FourFiveSeconds” is perplexing and unsettling.
The rest of 2015 became a tense-waiting game. Kanye’s counter-intuitive announcement of a “surprise release” nonetheless made the wait doubly insufferable. But while you’re watching Jaws, the enormity of the shark’s full reveal is no less eminent given its blatancy.
Exactly one year after “Only One,” Kanye released a Nike diss track, named after Kanye’s self-approved, holistic truth-speaking. “Facts” is a Yeezus-esque rant fueled by unchecked aggression. Though a “diss track” is typically directed at another artist, Kanye takes aim at a much larger target: Nike. The refrain of the song is honestly a lazy interpolation of Drake and Future’s “Jumpman,” in which Kanye is “[jumping] over Jumpman” (aka Nike, as nicknamed by the logo for Air Jordans). Along with the lyric, Kanye borrows the exact same rhythm for the hook from “Jumpman.” Despite his claim that “Nike treats employees just like slaves,” Kanye’s argument is not particularly valid, and he spends most of his time joking around. Approaching Yeezus’ follow-up, “Facts” seemed like a major letdown, but the new year has had better things to offer.
So far in 2016, Kanye has released two songs, both of which represent his expectedly unexpected new identity. When his wife teased a G.O.O.D Fridays return, the two newest songs— “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in LA” —were given specific importance. Previous G.O.O.D Friday releases include My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010) album cuts like “Power,” “Monster,” “So Appalled,” and “Devil in a New Dress.” Both of these new songs appear on Kanye’s published track list.
Thursday, February 11 is the slated release date of “the album,” as its referred to on the website where tickets can be purchased to attend its premiere.
Though the theatrical release is still classified as only coming to “select theaters,” there are hundreds of theaters in cities all across the United States, as well as 25 other countries across the globe. Mr. West’s fans around the world should have expected nothing less for the debut of what Kanye recently called “album of the life.” He’s also called it cookout music, a gospel album, and “not the greatest album of all time,” which leaves everything up in the air. If you’re lucky enough to attend the premiere on Thursday, and as the current state of rap music attests to Kanye’s continual influence, “the album” is sure to make some *waves.
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