Kanye West - 'Ye' Album Review
Being a Kanye fan has always been notoriously difficult, whether it be a tweet about Bill Cosby’s innocence amidst sexual assault allegations or his self-comparisons to Leonardo Da Vinci or Einstein, he always manages to keep himself in the headlines often at the expense of his fans respect. This has been a particularly shaky year for Kanye fans, as the prolific musical figure began expressing his support for president Trump as well as his very ignorant and harmful comments about slavery. It became harder and harder to justify his actions as it got to the point where he seemed to be selfishly saying anything to get back into the news after his 2 year hiatus after 2016’s The Life of Pablo (TLOP). Leading up the release of Ye I began losing my respect for Kanye however the album has somewhat changed my perspective on him. While I still strongly disagree with his knack for alienating his fans for the sake of a headline, Kanye is clearly a deeply troubled person, as he opens up on Ye, discussing his struggles with bipolar disorder and depression, making this his most personal and human-sounding album yet.
If Yeezus was Kanye at the height of his ego and power trip, Ye is Kanye at the bottom of it, as he sounds more human and natural than ever before. On most of his discography, Kanye sounds as if he is hiding behind something, usually his money or his ego, but recently he has been opening up a bit more, something that is incredibly refreshing to the Hip-Hop industry. This started on his previous album, TLOP, with tracks like ‘Saint Pablo’ and ‘Real Friends’ that allowed Kanye to talk about his relationships and family life in a way that felt genuine.
Ye‘s opening track, ‘I Thought About Killing You Today’, is a perfect representation of this as Kanye opens with a spoken word piece about, you guessed it, his dark inner thoughts. Behind this speech is an angelic and swirling sample that reminds me of Kanye’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ from TLOP, a song that presents Kanye as a godlike figure in stark contrast to how he presents himself here. Kanye is honest and even humorous as he recounts how he ‘Thought about killing you today’ as well as how he thought about killing himself. The track then transitions into a banging and sinister beat where Kanye returns to his braggadocios self, rapping about his journey to success. This transition from Kanye’s suicidal thoughts to his rise to fame perfectly encapsulates the Bi-Polar nature of Kanye’s mind-state and how self-destructive it can be while also being his ‘superpower’ as he calls it on the next track ‘Yikes’, the only ‘banger’ on the album.
‘Yikes’ transitions into the only real weak spot on the albums tight 7-song tracklist in ‘All Mine’, another dark and twisted song that focuses primarily on sex and how Kanye has used his power and influence to get it. The chorus sung by Jeremih is just so ridiculous sounding that it really takes me out of the dark vibe that the song is aiming for, even if the distorted and heavy snares towards the end of the song are really experimental and cool sounding, the rest of the song isn’t anything interesting. The album quickly shifts from the 3 dark and gritty opening tracks into much more triumphant and ‘old-school’ sounding Kanye songs, and I just love it. This starts with ‘Wouldn’t Leave’ and ‘No Mistakes’, both very personal and anecdotal songs in which Kanye describes the negative effects his recent controversies have had on his relationship with his wife, Kim Kardashian. Both these songs seem to come from a place of genuine love that we rarely see from Kanye since his mother passed away in 2007 an event that many fans use to separate between the ‘Old Kanye’ and the notably much darker sounding ‘New Kanye’.
The centre-piece of Ye is undoubtedly ‘Ghost Town’ an epic and almost cathartic sounding song that sounds celebratory and uplifting at first but ends up coming across as much darker and tragic, mainly through 070 Shakes’ haunting chorus about becoming numb after putting her ‘hand on the stove’ to see if she ‘still bleeds’. The chilling chorus fades out into the beautiful closing track ‘Violent Crimes’ where Kanye talks directly to his daughter, discussing how much he has changed since she came into his life, appreciating life much more as a result, a stark contrast to his suicidal thoughts on the intro track.
This duality between Kanye’s darker and wilder side versus his gentler and sweeter side is what makes Ye so great. While it’s no secret that Kanye West is a bit of an asshole when it comes to his publicity and marketing, Ye shows his conflicting home life and the potential highs and lows of living with Bi-Polar disorder, making it one of his most intriguing and impactful albums to date.
Listen to the album here: