Kanye needs no introduction, although we think it might be lols for someone to go up to him and ask exactly who he is, given that he’s hailed himself as everything from a (not even demi-) god to the next Steve Jobs. It’d be easy to take potshots if the music were anything but on point; unfortunately for our sharpened claws, but happily for our ears, Yeezus delivers in droves.
From the very outset, it’s apparent that Kanye is one of the few in his genre to constantly – and successfully – evolve. On Sight ties up with the world’s most famous motorcycle helmets, Daft Punk, and delivers a sonic onslaught. It’s a joy to listen to and a joy to write about, with breaks for an old school chorus giving way once again for that grotty electronica. Lyrically, Kanye is just as fresh, just as impetuous: “she got more niggas off than Cochrane”. But of course.
Yeezy’s already debuted Black Skinhead and New Slaves (which, much to our disappointment, no one has yet done a Grace Jones mash-up in the form of New Slaves… To The Rhythm), both indicative of Kanye’s growth. The only throwback to College Dropout Yeezy comes in the form of Bound 2 – still great, mind – but tracks like Hold My Liquor and Blood on the Leaves serve to build on what the rapper explored in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
And yes, there are still some genuinely madcap moments of Kanye-trademark brilliance. I’m In It is 3:55 of Kanye at his most indulgent, spliced with reggae-rap and what sounds like mainstay Bon Iver’s falsetto; meanwhile I Am A God practically plonks him down as a synonym for schizophrenic narcissism. Given what we know about Kanye, it’s hard to tell how much of this is ironic and how much genuine self-aggrandisation. And then a three-quarter way into the song, it abruptly cuts: Kanye screams and pants, not quite à la Megadeth, but disconcertingly fantastic all the same.
Apart from the irksome Guilt Trip (stop trying to make Kid Cudi happen, everyone), Yeezus is a relentless sensory barrage. It confounds, excites, it’s bound to earn haters but, if anything, it sounds like Kanye has created an entirely new musical space we can only call industrial rap-wave. It’s oddly accessible and likely to piss off a lot of purists… a bit like Jesus himself, then.
[PS. Can someone please start a Tumblr of the funniest Yeezus cover graffiti? That’s something we’d like to see, if only for the knowledge of how much it would piss him off. Cheers.]