BOTTOM LINE It's all about Kanye in his latest well-produced, but slight new album
Kanye West’s new album “Ye” (G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam) is truly a product of these times.
It’s all right – nowhere close to West’s masterpieces, not nearly as awful as the two truly terrible singles “Lift Yourself” and “Ye Vs. The People” that preceded it, but mercifully did not make the final cut. But in today’s world, is anyone interested in measured responses? If it’s not the greatest thing ever or the worst music ever made, then what’s the point?
More than any other artist around, West understands the power of outrageous actions. The problem with “Ye,” though, is that he generated all this outrage with comments like “Slavery was a choice” and calling President Trump his “brother” for a collection of songs that are mostly about his favorite topic: himself.
Politics is only mentioned in passing and Trump isn’t mentioned at all.
He does mention Stormy Daniels, though, in “All Mine,” where he talks about the desire men have to cheat, throwing in sister-in-law Khloe Kardashian’s boyfriend Tristan Thompson’s cheating allegations. (“I could have Naomi Campbell,” he raps, “and still might want me a Stormy Daniels.”)
West raps about being bipolar in “Yikes,” the album’s best song because its dark production matches the danger he’s trying to convey. He even offers an example of his thought process by starting out rational, moving into how being bipolar is his “superpower” and how he is a superhero before he just ends up screaming.
By trying to build up his own importance with all his political pronouncements, West ends up diminishing fine moments like this by raising the expectations too high.
By playing up his own personal story, he ends up shifting the focus from more universal ideas. The love song “Wouldn’t Leave” is actually pretty sweet, but most will move right past the sentiment to how his wife, Kim Kardashian, reacted to his controversial comment about slavery. “My wife callin', screamin', say, ‘We 'bout to lose it all!’,” West raps. “Had to calm her down 'cause she couldn't breathe/Told her she could leave me now, but she wouldn't leave.”
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“Ye” is now available to stream and download on the major services, though it’s not clear when the physical release will be in stores. It is part of West’s push to release five albums on G.O.O.D. Music in five weeks. “Ye” is the second in the series, following last week’s West-produced “Daytona” from Pusha-T. His collaboration with Kid Cudi is up next, with albums from Nas and Teyana Taylor that he produced rounding out the run.
West gets high marks for rolling out “content,” but we can only wonder how much better “Ye” could have been if he focused more on quality. Yet another sign of the times.