ye

Kanye West

G.O.O.D. Music, 2018

REVIEW BY: Daniel Camp

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/30/2018

As he is wont to do, Kanye West made plenty of headlines in the weeks leading up to ye’s release, some intentional, others unintentional. There was the revelation that he was a Donald Trump supporter, complete with MAGA hat. There was the drop of two singles, one (“Ye vs. The People”) a dialogue between him and T.I. about politics, the other (“Lift Yourself”) a troll that introduced the words “poopity scoop” into the pop culture lexicon. And most infamously, there was his impromptu rant in the TMZ newsroom, where he announced that he thought 400 years of black slavery “sounds like a choice.”

So by the time ye was released, West’s always-shaky goodwill with fans and the public had almost entirely dissipated. This album, the second and most anticipated of G.O.O.D. Music’s five June releases, was going to have to tear the roof off the joint. Does it?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Eh. Maybe a few shingles here and there.

Like all of West’s albums, this one is all about him – fair, since he continues to fascinate us. As the album artwork (a photo taken and edited with his iPhone on the day of the album release) announces, Kanye has been diagnosed as bipolar, and the music here returns again and again to his struggles with and ultimate acceptance of his condition. Music inspired by mental illness is not exactly new territory, but one could hope that an artist of West’s caliber would do something revolutionary with it.

Instead, ye provides mostly dull, thrown-together tracks that are light on both production and interesting things to say. West has admitted that, following his disastrous appearance at TMZ, he rewrote the entire album in the space of a month, and it shows. While there are moments of gold in “Yikes,” “Wouldn’t Leave,” and “No Mistakes” (all of which not-so-subtly address the controversy and aftermath), there isn’t a song among the bunch that I expect to return to five years from now. “All Mine” is so mediocre that, even after listening to the album a dozen times, I don’t remember a thing about off the top of my head. Even a cameo by Nicki Minaj at the end of “Violent Crimes” isn’t enough to make an impact. One is left to wonder what kind of material West had in the can before he imploded at TMZ, and how it compares with ye.

ye isn’t a bad album – for all his personal and promotional quirks, we have no evidence Kanye West knows how to give us poor music. But where listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is so viscerally powerful it can feel like looking into the sun, this is more like staring at an overcast sky. In the introductory track, the dark “I Thought About Killing You,” West raps “If I wasn’t shining so hard / wouldn’t be no shade.” Alas, the shade will continue – if anything about Kanye West is consistent, it is that he will infuriate people – but after ye it’s now an open question whether hip-hop’s resident genius still shines.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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