Reviewed by Tre G. (Journalist Without A Beat)
With the release of ye, Kanye West proves to still be one of the most polarizing artist in the game.
Venturing into the city of Wyoming allowed Kanye West to reflect on the meaning of life – The outcome would be Kanye’s 8th studio album simply titled ye.
On ye, the topic of mental health is front and center for majority of the seven track project. Not only is the theme of mental health displayed, but Kanye goes through different emotions as he paints a vivid picture of his current mental state – guilt, the feeling of being sorry for oneself, grief, loss of friends, fatherhood, and then finally bouncing back and remembering who he is aka Kanye West. With that being said, it was confirmed during an interview with Kanye after the listening event in Wyoming, that the album that was released wasn’t the original version of the album, as he felt the album needed to go into another direction stating “I wanted something with the energy the universe was me”. This sudden change may have to do with Kanye’s recent antics on social media and television, nonetheless the man delivered on his word for a June 1st release, even capturing the album artwork on the way to the listening event.
As of this writing, ye is looking at having very strong first week sales and is on its way to being announced as the #1 album in the country.
During the same interview, Kanye also gave the meaning of the album name – “I believe ‘ye’ is the most commonly used word in the Bible, and in the Bible it means ‘you,’ – So I’m you, I’m us, it’s us. It went from Kanye, which means ‘the only one,’ to just Ye – just being a reflection of our good, our bad, our confused, everything. The album is more of a reflection of who we are” said Kanye.
A lot of lyrics of ye are really current, one may assume the album was finished a week or during same week it was released. Absent from the album are two previously tracks released – Lift Yourself and Ye Vs The People
With every Kanye West album, everyone likes to compare the new body of work to past albums – that’s a given as the first half of ye does indeed feature some flows and lyrics that would have fit perfectly on 2013’s YEEZUS. Also with every Kanye album, you can best believe the album will have some of the best in production. This time around, production comes in the form of longtime friend, producer, & collaborator Mike Dean, Francis & The Lights/Francis Starlite, Apex Martin, Che Pope, and of course Yeezy himself.
Features this time are all across the boards. The guest appearances on ye are not necessarily full verses, but each artist adds a different type of flare to the song they are featured on, from a simple hum to contagious choruses. Kid Cudi, Charlie Wilson, 070 Shake, Jeremih, PartyNextDoor, Ty Dolla $ign, Valee, and Nicki Minaj all make a showing on the album.
This new album doesn’t enter into any new grounds when it comes to sound, and that’s a good thing as ye sees Kanye keep his signature sound of soul beats, dark distorted futuristic cords, synths,pipe organs, and guitar riffs.
Ye opens with the intense track I THOUGHT ABOUT KILLING YOU – This track has mental health issues at the forefront. This would be the first time Kanye has actually fully dived in and admitted that he has mental issues, he would always allude to it in past projects, but on ye and especially this track Kanye comes clean and airs out his inner personal demons, such as thoughts of suicide. By listening to this song once all the way through, one would assume that he’s speaking about murdering someone close to him, but in reality, he’s speaking to himself. This opening track showcases a vulnerable Kanye who is figuratively screaming internally and externally, yet no one hears him.
For about 2 minutes, there are 3 Kanye’s speaking to each other (this is done by excellent voice alteration – normal, deep, and sped up voices can all be heard) informing each other they indeed have thought of ending it all. The whole process is done through spoken word, something Kanye hasn’t really done since The College Dropout era. After the 2 minute and 20 second mark, an amazing thumping transition happens as Kanye goes in full force and rips into everything he has an issue with. The song has many of cleaver lines such as “If I wasn’t shinin’ so hard, wouldn’t be no shade”, Kanye even goes after his longtime collaborator and “big brother” Jay Z by saying “How you gon’ hate? Nigga, we go way back/ To when I had the braids and you had the wave cap/ Drop a pin for the fade and I’m on my way ASAP”. It seems as the issues between the two seems to still be unresolved. The track ends abruptly and leads right into track two.
From the opening of YIKES, an eerily close melody to 2016’s Wolves from The Life of Pablo can be heard as Kanye sings the hook about scaring himself when times get rough and the shine beginning to slowly fade away. Listeners will find Kanye’s most aggressive lyrical content on YIKES. Ye speaks on many issues he faced in late 2016 heading in 2017, such as drug use, dying and somehow coming back to life again on the drug DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine), and how the media currently thinks he trolls a bit too much online. He also touches on the Me Too movement when talking about Russell Simmons. Toward the end of the track, once again Kanye speaks to ye (himself) reassuring that everything was laid out on the track in the same process comparing his diagnosis of Bi-Polar to a superpower.
“That’s my bipolar shit, nigga, what?
That’s my superpower, nigga, ain’t no disability
I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero!”
ALL MINE could and sounds like a direct sequel to “I’m In It”, a track off YEEZUS that deals with about same narrative ALL MINE features – that narrative being sex. The track opens with a faint pipe organ, very reminiscing of the start of church service. Jeremih even makes his voice so unrecognizable during the chorus that it could be mistaken for relevantly new G.O.O.D. Music signee Valee. The opening verse where Kanye raps “If I pull up with a Kerry Washington/That’s gon’ be an enormous scandal/I could have Naomi Campbell/And still might want me a Stormy Daniels” can be viewed from 2 different angles. One being, that Kanye is referencing Chris Rock’s scandal and another could be that Kanye himself is an open relationship and could do anything he pleases (*Kanye Shrug). One of the standout lyrics from the song is the comedic way of Kanye explaining where everyone comes from – “Ayy, none of us’d be here without cum”. The production on ALL MINE is top notch.
The 4th track, WOULDN’T LEAVE, has to be the most up to date song on the album as ye goes into great detail about his social media and television antics that almost costed him his wife – All the while PartyNextDoor and Jeremih add smoothness to the chorus and bridge. During the closing, Kanye gave a shout out (while Ty Dolla $ign harmonized in the background) to every woman who stuck by their man even when they have constantly been embarrassed and he has “fucked up” way too many times. NO MISTAKES features a great sample of Slick Rick’s classic “Hey Young World” as Charlie Wilson handles the chorus. Kanye puts on his cocky “Late Registration” persona as he raps about the “shaky-ass year” he’s having and even though he has his back against the wall with problems, he responds in way only Kanye would respond and declares “Let me make this clear, so all y’all see/I don’t take advice from people less successful than me, haan?” In another lyric that can be pointed out as recently recorded was a somewhat direct shot at Drake who a week earlier took aim at both Pusha T and Kanye on a diss track. Kanye responds with the following
“Truth told, I like you
Too bold to type you
Too rich to fight you
Calm down, you light skin!”
The 6th track on ye is the epic stadium sounding GHOST TOWN featuring Kid Cudi, 070 Shake, John Legend and Shirley Ann Lee. In an interview with 070 Shake, it was confirmed that the actual track was produced and completed mere hours before the listening party in Wyoming. This seems to true as some of 070 Shake’s outro verse does has some questionable lyrics, even if it is supposed to be a metaphor – such as the line “I put my hand on a stove, to see if I still bleed, yeah”. In actuality, if a person were to place their hand on a stove, the first response guaranteed wouldn’t be to see if your hand is bleeding, when in fact your hand would be scorched suffering from burns. With that being said, 070 Shake and Kid Cudi steal the show on this track as Kanye supplies a verse that sees him singing about how he doesn’t want to be addicted to drugs, being “written off”, causing mayhem and stealing the spotlight from others around him. Cudi’s drunken slurring of the chorus mixed with Mike Dean’s guitar riffs adds a new energy to the song.
The album concludes with the somber by electric VIOLENT CRIMES as Ye reflects on his past life and shifting his perspective on how women shouldn’t be regarded as a prize for men as he is now a father of two daughters. Throughout the track Kanye speaks to his daughters and instructs them to be wary of men, he also asks for forgiveness from God, because he’s “scared of the karma”. The track closes with a voicemail from Nicki Minaj who recites the verse she wrote Kanye – “I hope she like Nicki, I’ll make her a monster/ Not havin’ ménages, I’m just bein’ silly”.
When it comes to ye, I would have liked the album to be a bit longer in length, the album clocks in at only 24 minutes, but in those 24 minutes Kanye West does get across how damaged his mental state was and how he’s rebuilding himself. Personally I thoroughly enjoyed 4 out of 7 tracks – I THOUGHT ABOUT KILLING YOU, YIKES, ALL MINE, and NO MISTAKES. Another issue this album suffers from is the lack of verses from Kanye, usually the Chicagoan brings at least 2-3 verses on each track, on ye, most songs are just one verse and boom the song is over. If The Life of Pablo was a glimpse of the direction Kanye was heading, ye gives listeners the most current look at the man known as Kanye West.
– Journalist Without A Beat… Out!
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