Kanye West needs very little introduction.
The Chicago MC has been responsible for some of the most genre-defining albums in the past decade, as well as one of the most influential men in fashion. “Ye,” is the second of Kanye West’s five produced and/or performed albums planned to be released this summer, the first being Pusha T’s “Daytona.” It is incredibly short, being only seven tracks and lasting under 24 minutes.
The album comes out with a disturbingly blunt confession on, “I Thought About Killing You,” where as the title implies, he admits to contemplating premeditated murder of his wife, Kim Kardashian.
The album begins with him presenting his lyrics in a spoken word fashion, rather than through rapping over this swirling psychedelic instrumental sound. The first half of the track is amazing in how straightforward and self-aware he comes off.
Towards the later half of the song, the beat becomes much more punchier all of a sudden, and he begins rapping in a much more familiar style. This could be representative of the bipolar disorder Kanye admits to having on the next song, “Yikes.”
“And I think about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you, so,” -Kanye West
On the surface, “Yikes” seems like a typical Kanye solo song, with an aggressive flow and a catchy, head-bobbing sample. What makes this track special, however, are lyrics in which he addresses his opioid addiction, as well as being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“All Mine” stands out like a sore thumb for being incredibly hedonistic, a complete contrast to a majority of the record. Valee’s falsetto delivery is awkward and sounds super out of place. Ty Dolla $ign has an underwhelming verse with what sounds like his driest delivery yet, and his most throwaway lyrics. The instrumental is very minimal, although there is some surprise distortion inserted towards the end.
“PARTYNEXTDOOR” sounds like he is trying to do his best impersonation of a gospel singer when he opens up, “Wouldn’t Leave,” but he does not have the singing chops to accomplish this. It almost hurts to listen to him strain through the opening, although he does sing one of the best refrains on the entire record. The gospel and R&B influences blend surprisingly well into a beautiful instrumental. An interesting lyric in the first verse has Kanye referencing his, “Slavery was a choice” remark he made on TMZ and how it affected Kim. Towards the end, he shows his appreciation for his wife’s loyalty despite how jeopardizing his comments can be.
There is not a lot one can say about “No Mistakes.” The song only lasts two minutes and features a decent gospel instrumental. Charlie Wilson has an amazing performance on the hook though.
“Ghost Town” is the song that I feel the most torn on. In one sense it opens with of the worst singing courtesy of PARTYNEXTDOOR and Kid Cudi. PARTYNEXTDOOR becomes progressively more incoherent as his verse continues to the point where he is essentially mumble singing by the end. Cudi’s lyrics are much more discernible, however his tone is so offkey that it is nearly unlistenable. Kanye’s portion is decent in the way he sounds much more tolerable than PARTYNEXTDOOR or Cudi although his singing continues to be his Achilles’ heel. The gospel/rock instrumental is beautiful in the way it blooms and shrinks continuously throughout the track. 070 Shake’s chorus towards the end sounds fantastic. Her soaring, tomboyish voice gives her uplifting lyrics a triumphant appeal.
In contrast to the last song, 070 Shake’s voice is much more feminine and pretty on “Violent Crimes.” On this song, Kanye raps for his daughter to be successful while avoiding growing up to fast. He acknowledges his hypocrisy for wanting his daughter to not be sexual promiscuious, despite him repeatedly objectifying women in several instances. He even goes as far as to say he wants her to dress like him, wearing baggy clothes that cover everything, and not like Kim who is notorious for frequently wearing revealing clothing. The lyrics are very endearing and the song is a tasteful closer overall.
Despite my reservations with this album, with most of the flaws landing heavily on the lackluster features, I enjoyed this album. I loved a great deal of the instrumentals and I liked the introspective and confessional tone of the lyrics. While an album lasting under 24 minutes should really be all killer and no filler, the good news is is that Kanye did not put all of his chips on this album. Even if fans are disappointed by this release, then they can at least look forward to future releases throughout the summer.
Best songs: “Violent Crimes,” “I Thought About Killing You,” “Ghost Town,” “Yikes”
Worst song: “All Mine”