Kanye West - 'ye' album review
Raw and compelling, 'ye' sees Kanye expose himself like never before in this short-but-very-sweet cohesive and honest parable.
Originality9.6
Lyrics9
Replay Value8.9
Instrumentation8.9
Impact8.8
We Liked...
  • The exciting use of sampling!
  • The coherence of the project!
  • The low-key feel and high-key production!
We Didn't Like...
  • Nothing!
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
9.8

On June 1st 2018, the polarising and innovative project ‘ye’ graciously crash landed into our laps a week after ‘Ye masterfully crafted and exclusively produced an array of illuminating instrumentals for the excellent new Pusha T – ‘Daytona’ album.
Kanye‘s eighth solo studio album comes as the second offering of his label GOOD Music‘s string of May / June weekly releases; 5 albums each only boasting 7 tracks – showing a clear quality over quantity ethos being championed in the camp, notably each album gets the magical ‘Ye production treatment.

Kanye challenges conventions and restrictions, opens minds and provokes thoughts with a lot of his artistry, this is vividly rampant throughout ‘ye’ – beginning with the album cover that has centrally placed text claiming “I hate being bipolar It’s awesome’ bringing his mental illness into to the spotlight and seemingly battling with it throughout the tumultuous ride ‘ye’ is.

Expansive production that seeps tones of subtle flair and full of quotable lyrics, ‘ye’ is in some lights a very typical Kanye West album – he always seems to correct public image through his music after causing controversy in the media; sceptics view his business tactics as being quite calculated and strategic, with everything being said to grab the headlines so everyone is talking about ‘Ye right as he drops a new project. The timing of the album appears convenient in an effort to distract from the recent scathing and truly shocking allegations of TIDAL manipulating and effectively manufacturing ‘fake’ streams for Kanye‘s ‘Life of Pablo’ and Beyonce‘s ‘Lemonade’ albums: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-44066139.

The title itself is minimal and simply his own name abbreviated indicating the intimacy and humbly transparent deep self-searching expression of the project. Places a lot of value on honesty and brings things to the forte, exactly as Pusha T has done with his recent musical back and forth with Drake.

Kanye sombre

The bravery and self-exposing nature of Kanye‘s character is a huge part of his bravado, confident often considered arrogant personality, however as Ye mentions profusely in the album opener –

‘I Thought About Killing You’

– He loves himself a lot yet has still contemplated bringing an end to his life. The album opener has a very sombre feel; beginning with “The most beautiful thoughts are always besides the darkest”, first half consisting of spoken word over the pulsating beat that appears to loom in the background and is not quite fully present until Kanye‘s vocals ascend into rapping amid elements of instrumentation being teased and incorporated, the arrival of a drum pattern signifying Kanye switching up the flow as he sets the tone lyrically for the project; reflective and introspective.

Of the many personal struggles Kanye reveals about himself on the album, the illuminating nods to indulgence of potent psychedelic drugs 2CB and DMT on ‘Yikes’ surprised and intrigued with the given context: His admission prior to the album release of an opioid addiction coupled with the straight off-the-bat revelation of being bipolar as such drugs can interact in unpredictable and contrasting ways with such a disorder.

– However there are advocates who preach of healing and helpful effects when dealing with certain conditions in favour of these psychedelics. The use of these drugs can serve to explain Kanye‘s often erratic media interactions, recent affinity with ‘free-thinking’ and rants as Ye acknowledges himself a few lines more into the verse “This the type of high that get you gunned down” – These candid lyrics are set up by a glimmering and energetic skippy upbeat feeling instrumental that certainly carries over what the first track instils.

 

At this stage of Mr. West‘s career and discography fans should be open minded with their expectations, looking at how diverse and artsy each of his releases have been – ‘ye’ is completely outside the box fans will have tried to restrict or narrow Kanye into. Upon first listen my overbearing thought was simply ‘wow, wasn’t expecting the album to sound like this’ – Yeezy is consistently pushing the game forward and redesigning the aural landscape of contemporary hip-hop; there is no doubt this project will influence and inspire countless people, from his own musical peers and labelmates to fans.

Even those who reject and negate the album will be shaped by it to an extent, the ability Kanye has to connect emotionally with his music remains a supreme talent of the eccentric. The most powerful thing music can do is deliver a message and connect with a listener, motivate and inspire audiences / generations to ‘get out and create’ and ‘own the day’ as AK The Savior and Meechy Darko (Of The Underachievers and Flatbush Zombies respectively, tweet everyday –

– “The Proof is in the puddin’, just ask the Deshaun Holton” as these groups have spoken highly of the ‘Ye influence in their approach to music and life and are a younger generation on that same inspiration mission) – Kanye never fails to evoke reaction, either positive or negative, either musically or through personal and media controversy.

‘Ghost Town’

The quite chilling yet beautiful song has been perceived and interpreted as a reference to the upcoming Kanye x Kid Cudi (who is a vocal contributor here) album; ‘Kids See Ghosts’ that dropped on June 8th (read our review here: http://bloggersgamut.com/albums/kids-see-ghosts-album-review/). A potion of slick and precise varied instrumentation that grows together and falls apart along the track. Reeks of hopefulness and optimism, looking forward and leaving the past be, the track is an anthem for turning the proverbial corner, spotlight is stolen by the powerful and youthful vocals offered from upcoming singer 070Shake. This has become a quick favourite for many and one of the standout tracks in terms of chart success so far thanks in most part to the catchy and expressive positive-exuding hooks.

Kanye recording ‘ye’ in studo w/ 070Shake.

Attention is drawn to the sampling on display throughout the seven tracks (akin to the wonderful effort on ‘Daytona’), a particular highlight for me is the enthralling ‘Slick Rick‘ sample that beds in so well on ‘No Mistake’ and provides direction for the song. Kanye retorts to Rick‘s leading “believe it or not”, to emphasise the point he’s driving while paying homage. We hear more candid lyrics, an acknowledgement of the ‘shaky year’ West has had in the first verse being followed up by bars later on that have been interpreted as weighing in on the Pusha TDrake beef aforementioned:

“Too close to snipe you
Truth told, I like you
Too bold to type you
Too rich to fight you
Calm down, you light skin!”

Completed by tracks ‘All Mine’ that features an explicitly sexual chorus and first verse complimentary of Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign that instil the songs’ theme; infidelity. ‘Wouldn’t Leave’ that over soft chords of appreciation elicits the backlash that came from his ill-advised, extremely controversial remarks about slavery and praises his wife of 4 years Kim Kardashian West for sticking by him despite all that’s happened. And album finale ‘Violent Crimes’ where innocence is emphasized by 070Shake‘s chorus and intro input, track reveals how Ye’s perspective towards women has been altered by his daughters North and Chicago West, he is far more empathetic towards women and recognises how ‘savage’ men can be, venting his anxieties for the future of his daughters’ lives:

“Father, forgive me, I’m scared of the karma
‘Cause now I see women as somethin’ to nurture
Not somethin’ to conquer”

Studded top to bottom with moments of magic, ‘ye’ is revealing, emotionally attaching, euphonic and melodious, like an all access tour of Kanye’s mind, compelling, well-rounded and another maestro display from Chi-town’s own, and above all definitely worth a listen, considering its only twenty four minutes in duration it isn’t too much of a commitment!

‘ye’ is out now and available to purchase physical copies at https://shop.kanyewest.com/ and digitally on all music streaming platforms!

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