What could crown Kanye West’s album better than his consistent 5-star production? Not much when we look at the evolution of the character that the Chicago native has created for himself over the past decade that he has since he embarked on his rapping career. Back in June right before the release of his highly acclaimed sixth album, fans were beginning to speculate the craft of the hip hop star and wondered if he had finally fallen off the deep end. Nevertheless, Yeezus assured everyone that he had a few unforeseen tricks up his sleeve with this smorgasbord of sounds that he had created for his fans with this release. Upon first listen of the album, one can begin to break through the web of befuddlement and post-contemporary approach to revolutionary rap music and see it is truly an album that makes 808’s & Heartbreak look like a male sport. West produced and branded the album of emotion for the next decade and used influences from post-punk, electronic, and euro-house genres, bringing in French electronic house duo Daft Punk on production once again for damage. Along with the duo, he also sent in G.O.O.D. Music label-mates Kid Cudi, John Legend, Travis Scott, NO I.D. and most importantly, Rick Rubin, who stepped in to “strip down the record’s sound in favor of a more minimalist approach”. When creating the album, West and current love interest, Kim Kardashian (who many of the songs are arguably referencing to), moved into a simple loft in a Paris hotel with poor acoustics to created an album that Def Jam execs have described as “dark”. Tracks such as “Blood on the Leaves”, which samples Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” can arguably be the poster track for the album’s main purpose: pure, unadulterated art. In conclusion, the album has found it’s way to the top of many 2013 best lists, but Mr. West will receive the 14th spot on my list for the year simply because with great power, comes great responsibility: mind-blowing lyrics, which is lacking as a whole on this album. Let’s just say when I see West perform for our city of Chicago tonight for the Yeezus tour, I will be looking at “Yeezus”, but my heart will always bleed for the College Dropout on the inside.
Best Song: “Blood on the Leaves”
Best Production: “Black Skinhead”