Three things I would like to clarify before I begin this review: I am a Kanye stan (albeit a realistic one); this album has grown on me immensely since my first listen; and I have decided to take everything on this album, especially the comments on mental health, as genuine. That’s not to say I’m excusing Kanye’s recent pro-Trump stance or “slavery is a choice” ramblings, I’m just saying that I will treat him with a fair deal of patience, as anyone with a mental health condition should be treated.
Aside from patience, a second thing you may need when listening to this album is a good pair of headphones. There are a lot of production and vocal nuances which, if missed, may cause the album to come off as boring. Still, expect very little of Kanye’s typical grandeur. This is his For Emma and he sets that tone right from the onset with a blunt spoken word over warbling synths about his suicidal and homicidal thoughts. This morphs into subdued rapping which is sweet until an abrasive beat switch up kind of ruins things. Another experimental moment on the project that does not pay off is ‘All Mine’. Jeremih’s Young Thug impression on the chorus is jarring and the sparse drums accentuating Kanye’s confession of all the “basic” girls he craves only comes off as tacky.
“There are a lot of production and vocal nuances which, if missed, may cause the album to come off as boring”
‘Yikes’ sounds like the sequel to ‘FML’ from The Life of Pablo, though a sonically and lyrically lesser version. ‘Wouldn’t Leave’ and ‘Violent Crimes’ are odes to his wife and daughter respectively. The former is a soft admission of the strain his recent actions put on his marriage and Kim’s tender loyalty. The latter, the last track on the album, is a pretty simple but endearing insight into Kanye’s anxiety surrounding the attention his daughter is bound to get when she grows up. “Don’t you grow up in a hurry” 070 Shake croons on the chorus. This comes straight after the singer’s fireworks-display of a performance on ‘Ghost Town’ – certainly the highlight of the album. The theme of mental dysfunctionality and love in spite of that really comes to a head in a beautiful fusion of instruments and synths matching herself, Kanye, Kid Cudi and John Legend’s emotional delivery. Another highlight is ‘No Mistakes’, a true Late Registration throwback containing the best Ye verse on the album. Indeed, Kanye, “a shaky-ass year” is an understatement.
Artist: Kanye West. Label: Def Jam/G.O.O.D. Music. Top Tracks: Ghost Town; No Mistakes. For Fans Of: Kid Cudi; Frank Ocean; the old Kanye. 24 minutes