so, yeah. hi. this is my first review and i plan on doing music reviews more often. i figured i'd do kanye first 'cause his album has good moments in it but i think people hated it because it's kanye west. granted, it wasn't his best album AT ALL, but i like the album for what it is.
this guy is the same guy that survived the car accident that spurned "through the wire" but there's been a lot going on in the past sixteen years. i mean, let's go through it:
- the ACTUAL car accident
- the katrina / "george bush doesn't care about black people" thing
- alexis phifer dumping him
- his mother's death
- fame / money / stardom (the vices of the music industry that is almost undefeated when it comes to black musicians)
- the internet (one cruel place if you think about it)
- the amber rose era
- months in exile under depression after the death of his mother
- the taylor swift / vma thing
- bipolar disorder
- "how sway?"
i probably have more if i can think about it but it would be kinda weird to ask this phase of kanye omari west to make "all falls down" or "bring me down" or "we major" when that was a whole 'nother phase. that was the world in 2005. it is 2018. we're all about change & you can hear in the music from his eighth studio album, ye, clear as day. it just feels good to hear kanye producing whole projects again. he did a GREAT job on pusha-t's drug opus daytona, a fairly decent job on the albums nasir & kids see ghosts, two of his projects with queens legend nas and probably the most unique rapper ever, kid cudi, and he did okay on teyana taylor's k.t.s.e. album. still, it felt good to see him at the helm and despite all the "dragon energy" malarkey we've got from him the past year and change, it's a new kanye west album. we live in a world where it's not even about the music, it's about EVERYTHING else but the music and i realized i've been writing about everything else but the music so let's do this "personal thoughts / opinion / review" thing real quick. by the way, i like the album.
the album's opener, "i thought about killing you", makes the general consensus cringe from face value. a song with this title from an artist like this can only bring the thoughts of "awwwww no. another blunder of an album." kanye justifies it from a two-minute long stream of consciousness where he's basically promoting the acts of premeditated murder. he also makes it known that it would be nothing to kill his wife because simply… he's contemplated suicide before! it's exactly what you wanna hear in the first track of a kanye west album in 2018.
outside of the crazy nothings, the production is eerie and it's not much going on. then after the diatribe, the beat changes and it holds a nice drum pattern with good kicks, great programming (which is second nature in kanye west-related projects) and the little things (sound effects & ambience, like the scream on and after the snare for example). the second half of the song is reminiscent of his 2015 banger "all day", where he's walking with swagger in a nike tech fleece sweatsuit around a horde of goons from the deepest, darkest denizens of south london. it makes sense, given the writing credits of london legends skepta and wiley, that he's going about this the same way.
when he performed "all day" at the brit awards in front of MORE goons and flamethrowers, he did it with the intention to scare and sear the images of blackness into the brains of millions of people. with "i thought about killing you", he repeated the idea… he just started it off kinda weird. i also realized that for the past 5 to 6 years, the rapping has dwindled for better ideas, production and programming-wise. the bounces on this record (and tbh, the whole album) are really really good but like i said, i'm lyrically not expecting the clever, slick, addictive jargon of a late registration-era kanye west. that phase is dead. still… a fair way to open the album.
rating: six out of ten
"shit can get menacing… frightening… find help… sometimes… i scare… myself…". that's the hook of a kanye west song, thus proving that a lot has changed since the chipmunk soul days where he was internationally known as the louis vuitton don. the second song, perfectly titled "YIKES", has a bounce that is plaguing the rap industry, sometimes in a good way. produced by kanye, houston legend mike dean, apex martin and queens phenom pi'erre bourne, it's the latter that holds the most power in this number, musically. pi'erre bourne is known for his work with young nudy & playboi carti, who are two of the many rappers who has the youth of atlanta (and the internet) in a headlock. the drum pattern and tempo has the bounce that epitomized the past year in hip-hop, nestled in the nooks & crannies of a social powerhouse better known as soundcloud. this same swing has been everywhere and it finally ends up in a new kanye west album.
when he says "tweaking, tweaking off the 2CB, ha?", it made me smile. paying homage to new orleans rapper juvenile (who needs his flowers real soon) and one of his signature records "ha", kanye went about it a good way and made it work. that's something i call "tricks", where rappers throw iconic, infectious pieces of a hit from the past and freaks it, so when performed live, it just works out. in some ways, the record turns out better because of the trick. a prime example is "the games we play", the supreme headnod from pusha-t's daytona, where he pays homage to jay-z's 1996 record "politics as usual"…
"ain't no stoppin' the champagne from poppin', the drawers from droppin', the lord from watchin'…"
that's a ill line, man. anyways… tricks work in rap records and kanye knows. at this point, the beat has got me enticed a bit but i'm still waiting for the typical wild, outlandish bars from kanye. i then get it with the lines "russell simmons wanna pray for me too / i'ma pray for him 'cause he got me too'd", which references the "me too" movement where men were just touching EVERYONE the wrong way, including russell simmons, allegedly. throughout the record, you get the arrogant aura of kanye, which is something you got every single time since the beginning. you get the same things you loved from kanye west, just from a different phase of kanye west. the approach is just out-of-whack, riddled with the medication for his disorder and the maniacal ways of life that only resides in the hidden hills of california under the imperial legendary kardashian empire. there's no really really good lines in this song. it's just a bouncy trap record that has a certain energy that furiously throws the supreme jacket on your shoulders and the yeezy "wave runner" 700's on your feet. it's a cool record, in my eyes.
rating: six out of ten
before i talk about this record, i'll tell you one thing: i am still a big fan of yeezus.
his sixth album, yeezus, is a myriad of genres encompassed in a clear jewel case with red tape, constructed by a kanye that's fresh off his sour end with nike and also after a couple of classics, 2010's my beautiful dark twisted fantasy and 2011's watch the throne with his brother hova. the bass was big, the sounds were punchy, the feel was heavy, and everything about that album was abrasive. it had remnants of punk, drill, industrial, dancehall and house music, all the while kept it rap and as wild as it sounds, kept it kanye. it was something i can expect from kanye, given the fact at that time, he delivered a new sound with every album he released. this song sounds like something he found on the cutting room floor of the yeezus sessions, reworked the idea and turned it into something. i found out anthony clemons (never heard of him) is singing the hook. i always thought it was either jeremih or valee. either way, the hook is nice, in my opinion.
"if i pull up with a kerry washington, that's gonna be an enormous scandal / i could have naomi campbell and i still might want me a stormy daniels" is a line that can be used in "hell of a life" or "feedback". kanye always serves as a beacon of ignorance, both positively and negatively. if you liked yeezus, you'll like this song. my favorite part of the song (and maybe the album) is the SHRIEK that occurs after every bar in the second verse. that is YEEZUS. that is kanye at its most abrasive, most punchy and most aggressive. i love that. it's just something that's really interesting that he always throws in his music. not to mention, the song got radio play and it has no hi-hats. only kanye can do that. make a credible radio record with no hi-hats. good song. the fact that it's a short song makes it better and the same thing goes for the album.
rating: seven out of ten
kanye west wasn't always the rapper to expound upon his relationship with women, but since his mother donda west died, that side of him crept onto every album in multiple ways. he spoke about amber rose on the revealing "blame game" & the ending of his relationship with amber coinciding with donda's death and the world turning on him after the taylor swift fiasco turned kanye into mush, with all the evidence becoming the 2008 classic 808's & heartbreak. that album is a firestarter for the genre and music in general, becoming the catalyst for rappers like childish gambino, drake and kid cudi to come into fruition. the same mush has hardened, progressed, made mistakes and made great music since then and this song is indicative of it.
initially, i thought young thug was singing the hook. come to found out partynextdoor is the vocalist with jeremih and ty dolla $ign contributing to the record. tbh, the vocals elevate the record and kanye is in the shadows. he rhymes like he's talking to his wife kim kardashian, very secluded, sincere and honest. he realizes that he's a big deal, it's a enigma being around him and he knows that most women would leave at the drop of a dime if they saw their african-american husband saying slavery was a choice. he also realizes that he's with a woman who loves him and you can hear the appreciation in his tone and in the overall sound of the record.
the production is amazing on this song and the programming is the reason why. dolla $ign is almost perfect when he plays the harmonic role. i've been listening to him since he was on pac div's records back in 2009. he's one of the best in the game and his performance is child's play. it's nothing to him. overall, "wouldn't leave" is the standout so far on ye, for sure.
rating: seven out of ten
in my eyes, the great adventures of slick rick is the illest rap album of the 1980's. london storyteller slick rick knows how to rap and the album is complete proof, with songs like "kit (what's the scoop?)", "hey young world" and the incredible "children's story". on "hey young world", he raps "believe it or not the lord still shines on you." personally, the line is what fueled me during basic military training in san antonio, texas. me being in the air force is a wonderful feeling and that one bar is what got me past the obstacles. that line also serves as a complete representation of KANYE WEST. despite all the wild things kanye gets himself associated with, he still believes in a higher power and i can tell that god is still there, somewhere, within kanye or in his world. he proceeds to love everyone and be the best kanye he can be and even when the dark clouds are following him, he knows that god (and the universe) is on his side.
"no mistakes" was the first record i heard from ye. it was during the album release party and when i heard the slick rick line and sample ("children (get together)" by the edwin hawkins singers) chopped up beautifully, it shows me that kanye… is still here. like i said, i'm not expecting the college dropout, but it just felt amazing to hear that side of kanye. the snares are straight out of "we major" ("action" by orange krush) and the vocals from kid cudi & charlie wilson were the icing on the cake. at this point in the album, i still wasn't blown away by the lyrics. i was just entertained by the production and the sonics of the album. i expected it, although there were slight bars toward drake at the end of the verse. "too close to snipe you / truth told, i like you / too bold to type you / too rich to fight you / calm down, you lightskin."
the flow along with the chops made me feel like i was listening to the old kanye. hate to be that guy but that's how i felt.
rating: nine out of ten
the drum break of "take me for a little while" by the royal jesters is not that bad of a drum break. it's not "god made me funky" by the headhunters or "amen, brother" by the winstons. it's not "funky president" or "funky drummer" by the jb's. it's not "it's a new day" by skull snaps or "ashley's roachclip" by the soul searchers. it's not even "grindin'" by the clipse or "yonkers" by tyler, the creator. but it's a good drum break and it's iller when slowed down. the drum break with these my beautiful dark twisted fantasy-esque guitars following the groove had my head nodding. it immediately reminded me of "runaway", the epic centerpiece of kanye's magnum opus and his singsongy flow on the first verse made it more so nostalgic than anything. partynextdoor just murmured over the record, kid cudi solidified his position as one of the greatest rappers who can hold a nice tone and north bergen, new jersey's own 070 shake had her "touch the sky" moment.
lupe fiasco is heralded as one of the greatest. at one point, he was the illest rapper in the world. when it came to lyricism, no one can touch him. he arrived on the late registration hit "touch the sky" back in 2005 and he never turned back after that verse. "i'm back on the block like i'm layin' on the street / i try to stop lying like i'm mumm-ra / but i'm not lying (lion) when i'm layin' on the beat". whewwww. he did his thing on that. shake did exactly that. she stood on the mountains of the teton range in jackson hole and sung "i feel kinda freeeeeeeeee." the effects played over her voice went by like fireworks. it felt like she had arrived. when her part played during the album listening party, she was on the shoulders of the crowd, relishing and enjoying every single second. being from new jersey, it felt great.
this song is great, but tbh, the sequel (which is on kids see ghosts) is the ONE. the drums are harder and ty dolla $ign is on it. amazing.
rating: nine out of ten
chords are something we all love. idc who you are. there is nothing better than a great chord progression. the neptunes are absolutely known for their chords. my musical idol, j dilla, has nothing but great chord progressions. kanye has emulated this style with common's 2007 album finding forever and in memory of dilla, the production was amazing. the chords on the closer, "violent crimes", are tear-jerking for ones who love chords, like tyler, the creator. the california genius has proclaimed multiple times that the changes in the progression has made him cry and he doesn't really understand why. it's the beauty of it, i believe. shake's vocals over this soundscape is something i can appreciate because it's the first time we heard something this jovial from a kanye west album in a while. that's one thing i loved about ye. the album sounds pretty. kanye is known as a guy who doesn't smile much or as much as he used to in the "glory days" and the past two albums (yeezus & 2016's the life of pablo) didn't have sounds of prettiness in it. this one did and i loved that.
the lyrics, as usual, were cringe-worthy. initially, i just thought it was an ode to his firstborn, north west, and how big she's getting and how overprotective he's going to be when she gets older. then, after a couple listens, it grew from that to basically a song about a father who knows her daughter is gonna be "f**kable" (for lack of a better term) because he's a man and he knows what men want and it just got a bit creepy, y'know? to this day, i still play it for the pretty chords and such, but the lyrics always get me thinking "what's wrong with ye?"
as we all know, a lot of things are going through his mind and his world but he can still somewhat… make music. it won't be universally accepted obviously but someone is gonna like this song. i did, for the chords and the vocals.
rating: six out of ten
the album is not the kanye west album we were searching for. i think we should give up on that, tbh. like i said this whole review, this is not 2005 or 2001 or 2007 or even 2010. this is 2018. this is a new form of kanye west, at the helm of a billion dollar company (yeezy) and allegedly bringing in a new project within yeezy to reupholster his hometown (chicago) from the inside out. he visited WGCI (his hometown radio station) to clear the air on the controversial things surrounding him and when talking about don c and his absence during the controversy, he cried on air. that made me also think he's still with us. he also chopped "never can say goodbye" by the jackson 5 in the studio for michael jackson (which surfaced on the internet) and the sound of it was prime ye. he went to harold's, he probably went back to south shore drive and there was also a picture of him with chicago legends bump j & glc. i don't think i've seen glc with kanye since the graduation days, where pastelle & child rebel soldier (his group with pharrell & lupe fiasco) was a thing. for the first time in a long time, kanye west was surrounded by his people. not just black people, but his people in his home. rakim once said "it ain't where you from, it's where you at" but in this case… the hidden hills is not home, i think. chicago is still home for kanye and i hope he makes his next album in chicago, under the influence of harold's mild sauce the whole way. overall, ye shows promise. it has the raunchy weirdness of a dragon energy-filled chicagoan but through production and feeling, it has hope. a whole lot of hope.