Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Kanye West -- Yeezus

A little background...

I have never heard (knowingly) a Kanye West song prior to listening to this record. I chose to listen to this one because I was so annoyed by the following sentence in the Pitchfork review: "These are the immeasurably lofty stakes Kanye deals in on Yeezus, his sixth solo album." That sentence followed a rhapsodic paragraph about the "I Am God" song on the record.

Okay, yes, I know, pitchfork, say no more. But there are NO immeasurably lofty stakes in ANY piece of pop music whether or not you like the artist. There are none in Bob Dylan, none in Nina Simone, none in The Clash... I could go on, but let's be real, immeasurably lofty stakes are not for the music/fashion/theater/film etc. worlds.

This is, of course, not to say that music can't be important, maybe even very important to individuals, but immeasurable stakes? Nah.

But I was intrigued, so I went on Google Play and gave it a listen. I listened to the whole thing (yeah me!). I'm trying to parse my reaction. Is this the inevitable old guy distaste for the new? The inexorable gap between me and "the kids"? Whatever it is: this record is awful. I can't imagine listening to it at home in the dark with headphones, I can't imagine listening to it while I clean my bathrooms, I can't imagine listening to it in the car, I can't imagine listening to it in a bar. I will not, can not, listen to it again.

The lyrics... oh man... these are the lyrics of Edward Snowden. The drop out who thinks he's smarter than everyone else. These are lyrics that portend to say a lot but really say very very little. (As an aside: he must have a very very small vocabulary, I can't imagine having an intelligent conversation with him). I like my musicians smart and dumb, so long as their honest about either. He's honest about neither. Rap music, for me, needs really really interesting words (hence my dismal feelings to Tyler the Creator). These aren't good words. They aren't interesting. They are pedantically "controversial."

The music... meh. Okay, he's processed what's going on over the last 5-10 years admirably. Good for you dude. It's boring and grating (a terrible combination). I found the production hard on the ears as well. Over-compressed (par for the course, I know), but really fatiguing. No depth.

I'm open to hearing rebuttals. I'm no hip-hop scholar, so maybe I'm missing some intricacy--but that would cause another argument from me.

6 comments:

blablazo said...

I'd type out a rebuttal but that would mean I'd have to listen to the album and that's not going to happen!! :-)

rootless said...

I disagree with you. I definitely have mixed feelings about the guy, and I haven't listened to much hip hop of late, but I saw Kanye perform a few of these songs on SNL a few weeks ago and I was really impressed. I've listened to the album and I don't love the whole thing, and I find it tiresome at about the half-way mark, and like a lot of hip-hop the empty bragging can grate on me, but I think he's a talented dude and more clever than you give him credit for. When he says "there are leaders and there are followers, and I'd rather be a dick than a swallower" I think that's pretty clever word-play as well as something of a rebuttal to his critics. I think the music is at times pretty novel too when it comes to hip-hop, with that industrial flavor that he has brought. As for when to listen to it, I found it worked okay at the gym, just saying.

CS said...

Well... okay... but I'm a critic (in a way) and I don't feel rebutted by that line you quote. I feel it more underscores your point about the endless bragging. He's a COMPLETE follower. He brags about himself--every rapper under the sun brags about him/herself. He swears like a drunken sailor who grew up listening to rap--almost every rapper under the sun does that. He makes a record that makes one's ears bleed sonically--every commercial artist from Taylor Swift to HIM does that. The gym is reserved for Fucked Up

rootless said...

I think the line is clever and defiant. I like Fugazi, the Melvins and Wolfmother at the gym these days. Maybe we need a post where everyone weighs in on what they listen to while working out.

EJ said...

if those are clever lyrics, it's a pretty sad testament to the current state of hip hop. i don't go to a gym.

CS said...

And sweet Lou weighs in: http://bit.ly/14oQ3Oo