Yeezus - Kanye West - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #95

I continue to live in hope that one day, and may it be very soon, one of those “spunk trumpets” from One Direction will do something so shameless and outrageous that they will totally fall from public favor. (Not that I have any personal vendetta against the band members per se, they’re just a symbol of manufactured, fake marketing schemes that pass for bands these days, and being irresponsible young adults with hoards of adulating female admirers and the world at their feet, it seems that if any of Cowell’s army is going to screw up and ruin their public image, it’d be them) Hopefully it would free a lot of teenage girls from the biggest hysteria they’ve been through since Justin Bieber’s false paternity allegations, but I don’t care about that as much as that it would prove a point that we all should know but too many of us ignore: people are scumbags. Everyone has a dark side, people will always let you down, and no matter how much they try to hide it, or you try to ignore it, it’s in there somewhere. It might be hidden very well, the good in people’s lives may very well outdo the bad, but people do have a dark side and it will out, sooner or later. Another point is that celebrities, while perhaps being admirable in their profession, might not be admirable as a person. (Wish I’d written this three years ago so I could make a Tiger Woods joke) Again, something we should and probably do know, but often forget. Anyway, this preamble obviously had a point to it, so I’ll get to it. Kanye West is a scumbag, in my opinion. From accusing GWB of being a racist on live television to interrupting Taylor Swift collecting an award to impregnating Kim Kardashian, I feel the guy is somewhat lacking in the class department. He’s still a public savior, however, thanks to the undeniable quality of his music, with his last solo album sweeping Album of the Year awards, and Niggas in Paris getting constant airplay rotation. I think with this latest offering, mind you, Kanye is actually making a point to make his music as unlikeable as his persona.

He’s already earned the ire of Asian women for the line “Eating Asian pussy, all I need is sweet & sour sauce” and Parkinson’s sufferers for the line “Soon as I pull up and park the Benz, we’ll get this bitch shaking like Parkinson’s.” Already, on the one album. Like the arrogant prince that he is, he’s declined to respond to any of these criticisms. Elsewhere, the track I Am A God is pretty self-explanatory and I’m surprised it hasn’t generated a stir of controversy for blasphemy or whatever, but it’s less about blasphemy as arrogance, once again. Kanye namechecks his Porsche and reminds us all how wealthy he is, as well as being an arrogant jerk and demanding massages and croissants, respectively. He shouts and screams and forcefully requests people to do his bidding, On being asked for an explanation for the song, he responded:  “I made that song because I am a god, I don’t think there’s much more explanation. I’m not going to sit here and defend shit. That shit is rock ‘n’ roll, man.” Er… yes. Other various misogynistic and quasi-offensive remarks reside in the songs, as well as an attitude of prevailing arrogance and generally not giving an ‘eff. His confidence and ignorance is both shocking and entirely captivating; in a Kitty Genovese sort of way. It all seems like a deliberate attempt to reveal this ugly and repellent side of him, (which probably is extremely close to reality) and as if it wasn’t shocking enough lyrically, the production on Yeezus is somewhat more uncompromising.

Enlisting the help of producers as diverse as Daft Punk and Rick Rubin, Yeezus alternates between the minimal and the bombastic, although with heavy preference to the latter. Naturally with such producers, Yeezus is heavily guided by their trademark sounds, from whirring electronics to abrasive, harsh guitars and drums. On Sight, the opener, is an abrasive burst of dense inorganic sound, guided by harsh synth melodies, a minimal drum machine pattern barely noticed in the background, the only semblance of normality in this hip hop production. The other tracks that Daft Punk had a hand also have a heavy electronic influence as one would imagine, but far from being the electro-funk that characterized Daft Punk’s latest album, the duo keep things raw with some extremely abrasive material. I Am A God features crunching guitar sounds, dissonant echoes and distorted vocals cascading over a consistent, throbbing bassline, which only serves to highlight the arrogance and inhospitality of West’s lyrics. A strange combination that surprisingly works incredibly well. Furthermore, the album’s only single thus far Black Skinhead is extremely avant-rap. Taking inspiration from the likes of Death Grips and other punkish influences, it’s a bombastic, stripped-down production with pounding tribal drums; West’s snarled, primal vocal delivery becoming more and more urgent as the track progresses. It’s a far cry from the likes of Stronger several years ago. But the album as a whole is mercilessly uncompromising, and these tracks are only examples. The production is constantly infused with penetrating basslines, harsh drums, distorted and autotuned vocals and obscure samples. (the best one being at the end of New Slaves, an elating sample of Gyongyhaju lany by Hungarian band Omega; a fabulous burst of sunshine through the haze of the rest of the track) The only track that sounds vaguely out of place in this nightmarish mire is the final track, Bound 2, which features the soul music samples that Kanye has previously been so renowned for. Stuck right at the end, it’s as if to say there’s still a little bit of the old Kanye left, it’s just buried underneath the newer atrocity.

The fact that the album was released with minimal promotion, the greatest secrecy and with such a non-commercial sound should maybe suggest that Kanye wants people to get off his back. Sort of reminds me of Bob Dylan’s critically maligned album Self-Portrait, deliberately lacking in quality to get the public and critics to stop bothering him. (Although this could just be an excuse to mention Bob Dylan) But unlike said album, Yeezus, despite its avant-garde nature and Kanye’s frequently unpleasant lyrics… it works. It’s brilliant. It’s a twisted vision of a twisted person, and I must give credit where credit is due to West for a reflection of what I believe is his true nature, both professionally and personally. This album is like walking in your best friend attacking a family member: it’s shocking, but you can’t look away.

Words – Adam.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...