Y E E Z U S

Kanye Omari West, you done did it.

Kanye Omari West, you done did it.

Some stray thoughts that I couldn't jam into the Yeezus roundtable I was a part of over at SPIN. (!!!)

- This is an album for boning. SERIOUSLY. "I'm In It" is the anthem for the central "conflict" of the 'hip-hop feminist' (bleh), articulated perfectly by Joan Morgan in When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost: "And how come no one ever admits that part of the reason women love hip-hop - as sexist as it is - is 'cuz all that in-yo-face testosterone makes our nipples hard?"

- Given the fact that some might interpret this as a kind of relationship album (I can't be the only one visualizing Kim bent over a sink?), there are no reasons for us to believe all the explicit shit that takes place isn't consensual. Kanye is a grown-ass man in an adult relationship who has almost never made songs that aren't rooted in his reality.

- Really, ain't nobody out here thinking he thinks he's actually a God. But don't forget the fear Black Jesus can strike into the hearts of whites.

- Part of the reason Lupe's faux-revolutionary shit reads wack is because you can tell he wants to be a celebrity SO BAD but doesn't know how to do it without the system. I'm not calling Kanye a social revolutionary, but I honestly think he believes in black self-reliance, black self-expression, and black self-love. Ye's always been self-conscious, a man of contradictions; he's the uber-rich distillation of what it means when we (**I**) rail against Wal-Mart but continue to buy my coffee at Starbucks. Not everyone can wear those complexities in the way he does AND he hasn't abandoned the ideas he came into the game with. He didn't go Will Smith on us, he isn't going into the rich whites club quietly.

- Kanye speaks to the fact that money does not solve the inequities facing people of colour in the western world. Kanye speaks to the fact that people of colour are complex beings, stacked tall with dichotomies like everyone else. Why Lennon still a God though?

- The parameters for a revolutionary have changed. The parameters for putting out socially-conscious music has changed? Can we accept that? There is no way that a white dread in Birkenstocks is gonna unite the planet. There is reason why conscious artists don't sell (or, if they do, succumb to pressure to water their shit down *cough K'naan*) - and that's because YOU won't buy it. Being in this modern world means you must be complicit (learned) in the ways of the people, in order to bring them together. Note: I am not saying Kanye will change the world, politically.

- I wrote a bit about how Kanye's actually in a yoke when it comes to his feelings on women. Part of the reason he makes these albums is because he actually lets women consume and define his emotional state. That is being open, sharing the spotlight if you will, in a way that many everyday dudes paralyzed by patriarchy cannot. It is dicey and more than a lil sad that the lingua franca for this fear is typically sexist bullshit. But ain't nobody buying albums because Kanye said "Fuck you and your Hamptons house, I'll fuck you and your Hamptons spouse." In fact, wouldn't that make you wanna do the opposite?

 - This brings me to the music, which is probably Kanye's moooost alienating soundscape to date. (I don't mean cos of the dancehall samples, *scoff*). And interesting considering how full up MBDTF was. Kanye was more hands-off here, in terms of production, than ever. I can't imagine what it would be like to hear this album if you haven't spent the past two to three years casually following the electronic underground. Like, those TNGHT horns on "Blood On The Leaves" are probably the most accessible thing here (aside from the few times a soul sample comes up)? I reallllllly love the way it sounds cavernous and scraping and like being on drugs at a party that is just okay (as compared to 'EDM' stuff, which makes you feel more YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! <3<3). I REALLY HOPE HIS NEXT ALBUM IS STRAIGHT UP TECHNO.

- It is so excellent that Kanye gives us something different and forward-looking, every time, isn't it? It's a little present. It's interesting that he's reaaaaallly giving the 'tastemakers' a chance to define the narrative of this record, which is totally how pop culture moves, but also problematic if you consider just who those tastemakers are.

- For example, the same tastemakers who might be able to swan on about Arca may very likely be clueless about Beenie Man "Memories."

- The dancehall is what roots this album some place familiar (high school!) and compelling for me. I just spent an entire day running back "Send It Up," because that is a blistering bionic badman vibe. I dislike the way certain writers are painting the sampled chantdowns as "nefarious" or whatever; I think they're definitely mood-setting, but I get a foot-soldier vibe from them (CHIRAQ!) much like I do with the appearance of King Louie and Chief Keef.

- So is this where we discover that super divisive, alienating music can still make someone a God? Kanye is not never trying to please so while I think he was definitely in DGAF mode, I don't think he wanted to discourage people from listening to this. In some ways I feel like his long-game is "told you so." In a few years when everyone is making Droid Rap we'll be like "AND IT WAS ALL BECAUSE OF YEEZUS." 

- But alsoooooo remember Def Jux? I'd be super curious to hear what an El-P has to say about this album.

 - Ummmm what else. My friend Shawn says that this album reminds him of Tricky. Aiight, and while we're at it Roots Manuva.

 - This whole debacle makes me think of when Diddy made that Ibiza dance song with Kelis and everyone was so up in arms about it. Kanye made a record for the Boiler Room.

- My only lingering question about all of this is: WHY IS KID CUDI STILL HERE?

 - Also i take it back re: "Bound 2." Poke me in the kitchen while I'm making breakfast to that song. Uh huh, honey.

 

Place names

June chunes