No More Yeezy
I miss the old Kanye
Chop up the soul Kanye
I hate the new Kanye
The bad mood Kanye....
So, the internet seems to think, does Chance the Rapper. After Complex ranked every Kanye album from best to worst, Chano weighed in on Twitter with his own run-down:
He’s since tried to take the heat out of it, but I agree with the sentiment. I miss the old Kanye. The Late Registration, The College Dropout Kanye. Yes, his Yeezy line continues to out-sell Nike Air Jordans, yes, his tour merchandise is more sought after than the colonel’s secret blend of spices, and yes, he’s still smashing records – back in April The Life of Pablo became the first album to reach number 1 with 50% streaming units – but his success as a brand has come at a price.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Life of Pablo. Nonetheless I was in agreement with many of the more comprehensive reviews. It felt unfinished – and not on purpose. In the months that followed its release, West continued to tinker, to add and subtract from the Tidal version of his album. Was he challenging the notion of the album as a discrete piece of art, redefining it as a work-in-progress, or was he simply unable to make decisive creative choices: the jury was out. I’m pretty glad that West isn’t out there doing the same to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, or 808s and Heartaches, or, most unforgivable of sacrilege, changing the blueprint of the expertly crate-dug The College Dropout – remember this album also had skits! ACTUAL SKITS! The closest he’s come to one of these since is, hyper-ironically, is ‘I Love Kanye’ half-way into TLOP in which he mocks articles like this one. The only problem is, he hasn’t proven us wrong.
His more recent efforts have been patchy at best – the Desiigner ‘Timmy Turner (Remix)’ - was pointless, ‘Ballin’ with Juicy J was clearly not time well spent, and I am not hyped by the prospect of ‘Kardashian Power play’ in his collaboration with Tyga.
Ever the self-styled Renaissance man, he’s just announced Yeezy Season 5 and honestly, I wish he hadn’t. I wholeheartedly respect his right to artistic expression on any given platform, and celebrate the diversity of his casting choices. But the clothes are not for us, and let us not forget the gruelling hours the models were made to play the ultimate game of musical statues as they waited for the Kardashians to grace them with their presence at the Season 4 show. And all for what? Oversized jackets, moon boots and unisex hosiery.
So please Kanye, no more meetings with Trump, stop allowing Desiigner’s incomprehensible murmuring become the face of G.O.O.D music, and listen to Pusha T when he says get back to the studio in Hawaii and do what you to best. Let’s hope that reconciliation with Jay’s the start of a new era…
Anyway, let's enjoy some of Kanye's best....
Kanye West – Runaway Feat Pusha T
Lead single on MBDTF and 9.08 minutes of uninterrupted bliss. Scorched samples jump out over whirling bass and minimal piano twang. Honestly, one of my favourite records ever made. It’s an exhausting ride, but one I never want to get off. A true tour-de-force and triumph in production.
Kanye West – Love lockdown
Never content with his current persona, this was the ultimate change of direction from a man who had cemented himself in rap history. Whilst many criticised the heavy use of auto-tune the tone and level of emotion he manages in his vocal performance (both on this track and throughout the album) are something to behold. Top Tip: watch him perform it at the 2008 VMAs.
Kanye West – Jesus Walks
So good it earned him a Best Gospel Artist nomination at the BET Awards – yet another example of his trademark diversity, and of his appreciation and understanding of the human voice. Drill sergeants and gospel choirs combine for a monumental example of genre splicing – not to mention a Happy Gilmore reference. Those that know, know.
Kanye West – Blood on the Leaves
For me, the album is too maximalist, but in a record of peaks and troughs, this is 100% a point. Hud Mo, Lunice and a hidden gem of a Nina Simone sample, this is a very VERY loud record. Press play, get lost in its beauty but be wary, a 10-piece brass band and a madman with an 808 are marching swiftly towards you.
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