Kanye West’s sixth studio album Yeezus, was unexpectedly leaked today, just a few days before the scheduled release date on June 18.
Yeezus starts off with plenty of promise, shocking listeners with a glitchy beat on the opening track “On Sight” but much of the album is the same old Yeezy bravado taken to the next level with aggressive style that comes off as borderline furious. He brags about self-accomplishments, makes bold religious references and calls himself a God by the second track, revealing his frequent chats directly with Jesus.
Curious minds can read more into his narcissistic personality from his recent New York Times interview where he bizarrely declared himself to be the Michael Jordan of music in addition Steve Jobs of “downtown, fashion, culture.” Despite additional last-minute production assistance from Rick Rubin, Yeezus is not the album to finally prove West’s reckless and beyond-boastful statements correct.
The new album contains no shortage of controversy, speaking out against racism by criticizing stereotypes of rich African Americans. The song “Black Skinheads” fires verbal jabs at critics who demonize him and oddly draws parallels between his personal love/hate perspective on white America to the journey of polarizing NBA basketball player LeBron James. Seems like a poor comparison and probably a bit of a stretch.
The most difficult misfortune of Yeezus is that rapper has yet to combine all of the touchy tirades from his songs with any recognizable political action. The album is missing the soulful fluidity of 2010 album My Dark Twisted Fantasy and lacks the tender sophistication of 2007′s Graduation or even his debut record College Dropout from 2004. There appears to be more similarities between this new album and his downtrodden 2008 contribution 808′s and Heartbreaks. Both exhibit more of his “Kanye or the highway” attitude as it relates to song structure, but even 808′s had emotive soul samples that resonated purely on a nice pair of headphones and featured at least one club-friendly hit single.
Kanye has spent the past few weeks circulating songs from the album by performing on Saturday Night Live, setting up public projections and hosting listening parties. It is not clear that a mainstream audience will fully embrace the ruthless negativity or West’s brand until he can match his studio gifts with real-life change. Given all the notoriety, it remains to be seen whether the end result will be acceptable to most listeners.
1. On Sight (Produced by Daft Punk) [Malik Yusef, Rhymefest]
2. Black Skinhead (Produced by Daft Punk) [CyHi The Prynce, Lupe Fiasco, Malik Yusef]
3. I Am A God (Feat. God) (Produced by Daft Punk) [Hudson Mohawke, Justin Vernon, Malik Yusef, Rhymefest]
4. New Slaves (Feat. Frank Ocean) (Malik Yusef, Rhymefest)
5. Hold My Liquor (Feat. Chief Keef & Justin Vernon) [Alejandro Ghersi, Malik Yusef, Rhymefest]
6. I’m In It (Feat. Travis Scott) [Justin Vernon, Malik Yusef]
7. Blood On The Leaves [Hudson Mohawke, Tony Williams]
8. Guilt Trip (Feat. Kid Cudi) (Produced by S1)
9. Send It Up (Feat. King L) [Alejandro Ghersi, Daft Punk, Gesaffelstein]
10. Bound (Feat. Charlie Wilson) [John Legend]