Kanye West’s Yeezus: Album Review Roundup

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By Henna Kathiya

Kanye West is one of the few artists who can do minimal promotion and still have one of the most anticipated and buzzworthy albums of the year. With the inevitable album leak two days before its release, the Twitterverse was already buzzing with quotes from Mr. West’s Yeezus, but check out what the critics had to say about Kanye’s eighth studio album.

Raw and Jolting
“Mr. West has demolished the production style that made him a major commercial force as both producer and rapper. As he bragged when he performed on June 9 at the Governors Ball Music Festival, “Yeezus” isn’t geared for radio play. If its jolting production didn’t keep it off the air, its onslaught of four-letter words might. The pop-friendly snippets that Mr. West used to sample and turn into hooks, and the smoothly swelling, richly orchestrated, proudly eclectic productions he often built around them, have been drastically cut back.” – Jon Pareles, New York Times.

Sends Provocative Messages
“Though Yeezus marks a sonic departure from West’s orchestral instrumentation on last year’s G.O.O.D. Music compilation, Cruel Summer, it explores some of the same ideas—excess, social status, inequality—as his collaborative project with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne (2011). Only this time, the themes are discussed with more humility and humor, as Kanye doesn’t feel the need to keep up with Jay’s emotionless grandiosity. Yeezus is home to some of Kanye’s most provocative writing to date, and it sees him perfecting his formula of dissecting power and otherness with a masterpiece mix of awareness, ignorant wit and fuck-off confidence. With Yeezus clocking in at a short 40 minutes, Kanye achieves his goal of creating a stripped-down, minimalist project; there’s nothing extra or out of place here. More importantly, Kanye makes it abundantly clear that he’s still got a lot to say, and a lot of new ways to say it.” -Dan Buyanovsky, XXL Mag.

Wildly Experimental & Narcissistic
“Those who can’t stomach the polarizing Chicago artist and producer will have a replenished arsenal at their disposal. Those looking for a progressive, assured and kaleidoscopic rap album, though, should pop it on at full volume and close your eyes. What you’ll learn is that as far as West is concerned, critics can go to hell. Within the first verse of the first song, he’s dismissed “whatever y’all been hearing.” As an exclamation point to his prowess, by the end of the song he’s being sexually serviced by a woman at a nightclub. A multi-dimensional contradiction, West tosses out rhyme-schemed similes that employ racial ideas rich with symbolism but often in service of harsh lyrics that suggests he either doesn’t appreciate or care about original intent. It’s a baffling, frustrating and often confusing move. But then consider the source.” –Randall Roberts LA Times.

Hard to Digest
“It’s hard to digest all of Kanye West on his new album. Yeezus is the rapper’s darkest, eeriest and most erratic album of his six solo releases. He is in militant form on the 10-track set, rapping over beats that are artsy, electronic and gloomy. It’s a far stretch from the contemporary rap and pop success he achieved with more than a dozen Top 10 hits. Lyrically, though, West isn’t always at his best. The album lacks deep storytelling from the 36-year-old, which he powerfully delivered on past albums. For the performer with the largest voice in rap – and sometimes in all of music – he deserves praise for not conforming to mainstream and radio rules like other pop stars. He may lose some fans because his new sound isn’t easy to digest, but he’ll likely gain others, too.” – Mesfin Fekadu Huffington Post.

Uneasy Listen
“Kanye West’s sixth studio album, Yeezus (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam), is the latest affront from an artist who keeps inventing ways to tick people off. At first listen, it is hostile, abrasive (both sonically and lyrically) and intentionally off-putting, as if to test the loyalty of even his most ardent fans. But, as usual, that’s only the beginning of West’s new detour. West has one final laugh at his own expense. It’s an album that baits listeners into isolating and focusing on its most outrageous lines, its most brutalizing moments, independent of the whole. On the surface, he’s created a polarizing album that practically demands to be loved or hated. But with West, it’s never quite that easy.” – Greg Kot Chicago Tribune.