Published Jun 03, 2018So, did he pull it off? Did Yeezy create a masterful enough LP to redeem himself after his recent alt-right screeds?
No, of course he didn't. It actually doesn't sound like Kanye West is even trying to win us back, at least not based on many of the lyrics on ye, the second of a slew of new albums slated to come out this summer from his G.O.O.D Music label, following last week's Pusha-T drop.
One of the most shameless examples is a lament about Russell Simmons getting "#MeToo'd" on the gratingly mechanical "Yikes." Worse still is Yeezy's reference to the infamous TMZ interview where he called slavery a choice, spitting on the gospel-leaning track "Wouldn't Leave," that it could've been even worse if they'd "caught me on a wild day."
Nauseating lyrics aside, it's hard not to be swept up by the stubby, stick-in-your-eardrum beats and glistening vintage synths of "Wouldn't Leave." Longtime fans will be all the more taken with "No Mistakes," what with its soaring backing vocals and strategically spliced sample from Slick Rick's "Hey Young World," which all harken back to Yeezy's more soulful, Late Registration era.
But what truly gives ye a purpose, and what mitigates its glaring flaws, are its moments devoted to mental health. West employs vocal effects on "I Thought About Killing You" that help him evoke the myriad voices that ring in a deranged mind. Then there's "Ghost Town," with its dire guitar riff and full-throated vocals from Kid Cudi (who has been public about his own mental health issues), not to mention up-and-comer 070 Shake's chilling lyrics about self-inflicted injuries.
None of these strong points measure up to the engrossing, honed and toned production that Yeezy employed on G.O.O.D. Music cohort Pusha-T's instant classic DAYTONA a week ago, but these elements at least make ye laudably ambitious. And in the same way that DAYTONA's production reflected Push's unfussy delivery, the instrumentals on ye capture the essence of its marquee artist — the contradictions, the abrasive sudden shifts in tone, the blistering flaws and the bounty of positive potential.
If West had better delved into his emotional and psychological turmoil in ye's lyrics, instead of getting bogged down with click-baity asides, then this LP would've been a classic. Let's hope this soul gets the help he needs, so that he can give us a better glimpse into his psyche on his next LP. For now Ye only serves as the first foot forward in what should be a twelve-step program.
Pre-order ye on vinyl via Umusic here. (G.O.O.D.)