No troubled man could make a cry for help sound more beautiful than this musical mastermind.
We’ve witnessed the social media meltdowns and his controversial public statements over the last few weeks, but all that has led up to the extravagant revelation of Kanye West’s album release. Thursday evening, the world watched as journalists, critics, celebrities, industry executives, musicians, and fans gathered together for a fireside listening party streamed live from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. After ostracizing himself from the world to be locked away in a studio in the mountains, Kanye West finally unveiled his eighth studio album and latest body of work, ‘ye.’
The listening party itself drew quite similar to the reveal of his previous album, The Life of Pablo, which many tuned in to listen to via a live-streamed video at Madison Square Garden during the Yeezy Season 3 Fashion Show. Famed comedian Chris Rock got the chance to segway us into the start of the album with an opening monologue while shouting out some of Ye’s peers who flew in for the event. His final declaration was an understatement for the music we were to listen to.
“Hip-hop is the first art form created by free black men. And no black man has taken more advantage of his freedom than Kanye West.”
A seemingly contradictory statement to Ye’s previously expressed thoughts about slavery and freedom, the album nonetheless gave us insight into the twisted mind of a troubled man struggling with his mental health, personal demons, family, and public view. What is now a trend following Pusha T’s ‘Daytona’ album, the lucky number 7 seems to be G.O.O.D. Music’s magic number for albums and for ‘ye’ it worked well in West’s favor. Compared to his previous works, Ye decided to deliver an uncanny, yet addicting 24-minute album with replay potential. Unlike Daytona, which left listeners craving for more, ye’s 7 tracks served as just enough content to satisfy our musical appetites.
The album is incredibly soulful and melodic in ways that captivate your ears into looping the album more than once. It’s easy on the ears because the vibe is familiar to some. As far as beats go, Ye is quite possibly the best when it comes to sampling. It’s no surprise the album was filled with oldie samples from artists like Slick Rick, Edwin Hawkins, and more. The album itself draws a lot of parallels to The Life of Pablo in terms of samples, similar beats, and the direction it leads you in, starting at a low point to an incredible climax before settling down into a gloomy close. The lyrics however lack poetic structure and are more so straight to the point with surface level bars. While the album overall is comforting to listen to, Ye dropped the ball on lyricism which is quite disappointing coming from an artist of his caliber. This calls us to question what kind of music Ye is interested in making now.
“And I love myself way more than I love you/See, if I was trying to relate it to more people/I’d probably say I’m struggling with loving myself because that seems like a common theme/But that’s not the case here.” – “I Thought About Killing You”
It’s worth pointing out that the most enjoyable aspect of the album is the strategically placed features fitting for each artists’ personality. The biggest highlight from ye is one of G.O.O.D. Music’s newest signees, 070 Shake. The 19 year-old New Jersey native shines bright on the album with her incredible vocals featured on nearly half the tracks. Her most gratifying feature is that on “Ghost Town” where her emo-like voice was almost meant for the song itself. Another notable feature is from Nicki Minaj, but not in the manner you would think. Her voice appears at the end of “Violent Crimes,” the final track on ‘ye,’ on a voicemail message where she says “I’m saying it like, ‘I want a daughter like Nicki. Aw man, I promise I’ma turn her into a monster but no ménages.’ I don’t know how you saying it, but let ’em hear this.” This line hints that she most likely gave him this line to appear in the song.
“I put my hand on a stove, to see if I still bleed/ Yeah, and nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free.” – “Ghost Town”
‘Ye,’ a thoughtfully crafted body of work, is as beautiful as it is confusing to process. While most who tuned in were looking for answers to our looming questions on Ye’s psyche and personal thoughts, the album only provided more confusion with seemingly unfinished thoughts. Perhaps he still hasn’t found the answers to the questions we’re asking.
This time around, West was under much more pressure and scrutiny for this album because of his outbursts online and shocking statements he’s made in the media over the last few weeks. Many thought his strange behavior was apart of a ploy to hustle more streams for his album, but in way it gave us a small clue as to what we could expect him to address on the album. He’s publicly addressed his opioid addiction and how people are calling him crazy, which in some way he confronts on the album. His outrageous behavior in the public eye turned a lot of his fans off but of course we all couldn’t resist tuning in to listen to ‘ye,’ the forbidden project was too tempting to not lend an ear to.
“I hear y’all bringin’ my name up a lot/ Guess I just turned the clout game up a notch/ See, y’all really shocked but I’m really not.” – “Yikes”
I’m sure everyone had their own expectations of what Ye would bring to the table, but honestly based on his last album you can’t have expectations when it comes to his music. If you take a look at his discography, you’ll notice he’s never made the same album twice. By this I mean he doesn’t stick to any one thing, instead he enjoys exploring sounds and doing the unexpected, that’s what makes him Ye. The saving grace for the album is despite how lost and chaotic he feels, his words remain hopeful for better things.
‘Ye’ is a very brief, yet, a satisfying body of work that acts as a breakthrough for Ye’s deteriorating mental stability and our personal tour into the mind of a perturbed man. The things that were revealed to us on this album were frightening and audacious, and yet Ye still found a way to make pain sound so sweet. The album deserves a fair listen because you’ll be surprised how much you enjoy it.
If you haven’t already, listen to Kanye West’s ‘ye’ below.