Why Yeezus is Genius, But Isn’t Great, Only Good

As some of you may know who read my first post, I love Kanye West. In my opinion, he released the two greatest rap albums of all time (and 2 of my favorite albums in general) in The College Dropout and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. A supremely talented individual, he also was the producer for many of Jay-Z’s best songs, from “Lucifer” to “Ain’t No Love (In the Heart of the City)”. In other words, Yeezy is the real deal.

Another one of Kanye’s most prominent features, and many would say his most prominent feature, is the disparity in his music. From the feel-good soul of College Dropout, the snyth strings of Late Registration, the electronic groove of Graduation, to the bombastic, maximist sounds of Dark Fantasy, Kanye has no qualms about rapidly changing styles from album to album. That being said, I knew that Yeezus wouldn’t play it safe. I knew it wouldn’t be like Magna Carta Holy Grail would inevitably turn out to be: the least ambitious hip hop album ever.

But I wasn’t ready for Yeezus.

The abrasive, minimalist beats of Yeezus were harsh-sounding. His arrogant lyrics (I mean, I Am A God, one of the weak points of the record, actually features God) totally turned me off.

But, for some reason, I went back a few weeks later for another listen. And that time I liked what I heard. The beats sounded catchier, especially on “On Sight”, “Black Skinheads”, “Blood on the Leaves”, and “Hold my Liquor”. Another thing I immediately noticed during my second listen was how much “Bound 2” sounded like vintage, Dropout Kanye.

And I became addicted to Yeezus. By now, I have probably listened to it over 10 times front to back. It is hypnotizing. I can’t get the hand-clapping, butt-shaking beat of “Black Skinhead” out of my head. The triumphant horns of “Blood on the Leaves” fill my every passing moment. “Bound 2” was even added to my hallowed Best of Kanye playlist on Spotify.

But there is still something missing.

The total lack of pop separates this album from his other classics. And not in a good way. All in all, I would place this album right above Watch the Throne on the pantheon of Kanye records, but below College Dropout, Dark Fantasy, and Late Registration. While critics unsurprisingly adore the album, claiming it is another Yeezy masterpiece, I think Yeezus will go down in history as the Rap Album That Could Have Been.

Oh, I agree with the critics. Yeezus is a masterpiece. Just a significantly flawed one.

3.5 stars

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