The Score: "'Yeezus' Is The Panicked Sound Of That Ensuing Free-Fall, A Rush Of Angst & Despair W/ Absolutely Nothing Left To Lose"

Tuesday, Jun 18, 2013 1:45PM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

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Consequence of Sound 5 out of 5
Entertainment Weekly A-
Paste Magazine 7.2 out of 10
Pitchfork 9.5 out of 10
Pretty Much Amazing A

After making fans wait nearly three years for a follow-up to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, G.O.O.D Music boss Kanye West finally delivers with Yeezus.

Mr. West makes his grand return to giving everyone an in-depth look into his personal life with his sixth one-man effort.

Yes, Kanye West has gone rogue again. Did you expect anything less? Five years ago, the Chicago native -- known at the time for top-shelf but ultimately traditional hip-hop -- confounded scores of fans and critics with his emotional electro opus 808s & Heartbreak. At the time it was an anomaly not just within his own catalog but within the larger landscape of radio rap. Today, in the age of Drake and Frank Ocean, it's hard to imagine that landscape without the confessional bedroom-beats style that West first brought to the mainstream. (Entertainment Weekly)

The newest solo release appears to draw inspiration and connections to his previous two solo projects.

Yeezus is something of a razor-sharpened take on 2008's distressed 808s & Heartbreak and marks a blunt break with the filigreed maximalism Kanye so thoroughly nailed on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. In hindsight, the latter album-- with its ingratiating GOOD Fridays buildup, endless guest list, and uncharacteristically apologetic interview sessions-- was his attempt at recapturing a superstar-sized American audience after a slew of entertaining-yet-questionable PR incidents. Except it didn't exactly work: While Twisted Fantasy was universally lauded and went platinum, it still stands as Kanye's worst-selling album to date, failing to produce a top 10 single. But even if it wasn't a chart smash, the intricacy and durability of Twisted Fantasy incubated the Cult of Kanye to an extreme level. "I'd rather piss a bunch of people off and make myself happy than make everyone else happy and be pissed off inside," he told VIBE around the release of 808s. Yeezus doubles-down on this exclusionary philosophy: "Soon as they like you, make 'em unlike you/ 'Cause kissing people ass is so unlike you." (Pitchfork)

Ye dedicates a large portion of the release to dark images and sounds heard on records like "New Slaves."

Luckily, Kanye's still more man than God. Yeezus' second half is weirder, darker, more introspective--all the qualities that define his best work. The first revelation is "New Slaves," a racially charged gospel set to a gothic, electro-choral swirl. The first verse alone is masterful--as focused and emotionally affecting as anything he's ever written ("You see it's broke nigga racism that's that 'Don't touch anything in the store' / And this rich nigga racism that's that 'Come in, please buy more'"), delivered with a razor-sharp cadence, with an eerie sonic framework that adds urgency to the message. Basically, it's the anti-"God." (Paste Magazine)

Notable guest appearances are sprinkled throughout Yeezus like contributions from fellow Chicago rapper Chief Keef.

"Hold My Liquor" and "Bound 2" are the glory of Yeezus, painfully great tracks on an album that doesn't contain a single bum note. "Hold My Liquor," another break-up song, sounds as if it exists in the three minutes that conclude "Runaway." Chief Keef and Justin Vernon own the track, trading mournful, Auto-Tuned vocals. A guitar and synth duo mirrors their interplay, and for that time we've returned to Twisted Fantasy's majesty. "Bound 2" is the gulp of air at the end of an often stifling album: a moment of unadulterated joy after so much rage. If "Hold My Liquor" recalls Twisted Fantasy, then "Bound 2" is West's reminder that nine years later, he is in fact the man who once recorded The College Dropout. (Pretty Much Amazing)

Nearly perfect in all categories, few critics had much negative issues with the album.

These are the immeasurably lofty stakes Kanye deals in on Yeezus, his sixth solo album. His intensity here has a heightened desperation as he howls into the void, but the Chicago native has always been beguiled by the view from above. Take "Jesus Walks", where he references another Psalm while gasping from on high: "I walk through the valley of the Chi where death is/ Top floor, the view alone will leave you breathless." Then, on "POWER", he contemplates leaping out of the penthouse, "letting everything go." In a way, Yeezus is the panicked sound of that ensuing free-fall, a rush of angst and despair with absolutely nothing left to lose. (Pitchfork)
Yeezus is a typical whirlwind of contradictions (Kanye the sex-crazed psycho, Kanye the racially profiled, Kanye the God), but we exit gaining little insight about Kanye West as a man (the expectant father, the Kim Kardashian boyfriend, the Rick Rubin side-kick). The album closes with "Bound 2," an old-school College Dropout throwback--built on a warped soul sample, crammed full of classic Kanye observations. "One good girl is worth a thousand bitches," he notes, between sink-top sex and Fight Club references. "You remember where we first met? / OK, I don't remember where we first met / But admitting is the first step." Perhaps more of these layers will unravel in time--if there's one artist who's earned our dedicated spins, it's this guy. In the meantime, it's a beautiful blast of humanity on an album--a perplexing, fascinating, absorbing album--that often feels outside normal human grasp. (Paste Magazine)

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