Kanye West’s sixth studio album,Yeezus, was met with mixed public reaction. Critics seemed to love it, but it’s a bit of a shell-shock for long-time fans of West, as it hardly resembles his past works. The album has an impressive list of collaborators: Justin Vernon, James Blake, Frank Ocean and Kid Cudi are among some of the artists enlisted to contribute. Two of the tracks on the album are produced by Daft Punk, which brings a rocky-electronic feel to the record.
Ten years have passed since the release of Kanye West’s first album,College Dropout. West’s music has undergone a dramatic evolution in those ten years. Starting out as a traditional rapper, West began to explore different sounds and ways of producing music as he advanced in his career. Yeezus is his full progression away from that orthodox sound, as none of the songs on this album could be labelled “traditional” hip-hop.
Have you ever found yourself at an art show where the artist tried so hard to prove their artistic independence and freedom, that it’s not clear if what they’ve produced is actually art? In fact, it’s as if the artist went as far away from the traditional as possible, just to prove a point. That’s exactly Yeezus. West makes a concerted effort to explore new artistic horizons in this album. He incorporates a variety of genres into his work, such as tribal music, Jamaican music (brought in by the collaborating artist Assassin), trap (TNGHT produces the track, ‘Blood On The Leaves’), and electronic pop-rock (undoubtedly the influence of Daft Punk). Yeezus is a statement piece: West will not let the boundaries set upon the mainstream hip-hop industry define what he plans to do musically.
That’s why it’s impossible to say whether this is a good album or a bad album. West didn’t make the album to be good; he made it to musically explore the things he loves with the artists that he respects. After inching towards the outskirts of the traditional for the past 10 years,Yeezus is West’s way of declaring that his coming of age is over – he’s breaking away from the clichés and going off on his own. Groomed by enough genius, that leap of faith could pay off in years to come.
For more information on the album, check out West’s website: www.kanyewest.com.