This album was probably Kanye’s most anticipated project yet, and it isn’t because of the music. Over the last couple of years, Kanye West has been clearly fighting through some things. Even more so over the last few months, his opinions on racism, Donald trump, and black America have been…”entertaining” to say the least. However, for this album review, I’m going to be assessing the music strictly for its quality, regardless of who Kanye is today.
Ye has reminded us why we first fell in love with his music. His growth as a producer, from his earlier albums filled with soul samples, even up until the revolutionary album that was 808’s and Heartbreaks is evident. He’s simply one of the greatest producers in hip-hop. His creative genius in sampling, intriguing bridges, and unique drum patterns always seems to exceed expectations. On his first three albums, as well as My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye displayed a beautiful balance between his talents as both a producer and rapper (i.e. Through the Wire). Unfortunately, Ye isn’t his greatest rap performance yet, but then again it isn’t his worst either (I’m looking at you Yeezus).
“Russell Simmons wanna pray for me too, I’ma pray for him ’cause he got #MeToo’d”
I Thought About Killing You
This is a rollercoaster of a song. It begins with a pretty modern sounding ambient beat, with a calm and collected Ye talking about murder. Initially, it sounds creepy, but once you get over that initial shock, it’s weirdly comforting. Kanye allows us into his mind, and you can tell it’s a place where skeletons lie. Up until about 2:20 this song really is, by definition, an intro. It then adopts a beat and Ye starts rapping. Unfortunately, the song meant a lot more to me before he started actually spitting on it. He says, “And I think about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you, so…Today I thought about killing you, premeditated murder”. Honestly folks, it’s difficult to put this one into words. Dim the lights, put this on, sit up straight, and indulge.
It seems like there was an effort to rap here, unlike classic Kanye. He’s attempting to rap like a generation that he isn’t a part of. The beat isn’t overly great; it’s repetitive and a little bit irritating to be honest. The lyrics are subpar at best. The only entertaining part of this song is Ye coming at Russell Simmons. To be frank, this feels more like a filler track than anything. I can’t imagine Kanye West listening to this song and thinking this is a hit.
He’s back baby! This beat reminds us who Kanye West really is. The weird ass chorus sung by Valee is unreal. Keep in mind Valee doesn’t usually sound like this. Again, this is Kanye’s magic on the production. And then out of nowhere, Ty Dolla $ign jumps on the bridge. Kanye’s lyrics aren’t necessarily great, but at least the flow matches the beat well. This song reignited my energy and excitement for the remaining four tracks.
This is by far the best beat on the album and, for the sake of music, why isn’t Chance the Rapper on this record? The subtle organ and the layered background vocals screams Coloring Book. Jeremih, Party Next Door, and Ty Dolla $ign are on this one. Their inclusion on the track is subtle, but creates a level of authenticity. With the progression of the song, Kanye’s voice seems to continue to get more upset. This beat isn’t one that can handle an angry Kanye; it needs subtle honesty. With that being said, the potential of this beat is much greater than its use.
Here are two lingering unrelated thoughts about this song. First, his ode to his ride or die female at the end of this song was hella cute. Second, how is Drake going to feel about PND being on this album? Hmmm? Alright back to the music.
This is the closest thing we’ve heard in years to the old Kanye. I almost feel like this song would’ve fit well on his Graduation album. It has the same vibes, similar flow, and hard hitting beat. The inclusion of Kudi was wholesome and added comfort to the record. Now, let’s not forget the detail that makes Kanye such a creative producer. That Slick Rick “believe it or not…” loop is genius and it adds something special for us old school hip-hop lovers.
Once again, the production here is stunning. However, John Legend is on the intro and it sounded like amateur night at the Apollo. The guy’s name is John LEGEND. He had the ability to make or break the record, but again similar to Wouldn’t Leave, it seems like there’s an issue of Kanye not recognizing or at least not exploiting potential.
Kid Cudi’s chorus on this is short and sweet; his unfiltered voice allows for a level of refreshing genuineness that we’ve already heard on this project.
This one gets really deep. This one is for his daughters. “Don’t do no yoga, don’t do pilates. Just play piano and stick to karate. I pray your body’s draped more like mine and not like your mommy’s.” This was beautiful. It shows another side of him. This is a degree of vulnerability that we haven’t seen before. It isn’t about him, it’s about his children. I’ve never felt sorry for Kanye until now. Songs like this do a good job at making you forget about the whole “slavery is a choice thing”.
If I could describe this album in one word: Authentic