Kanye West has been building up the hype for the release of his sixth studio album with the controversial title Yeezus ever since he tweeted its release date last month. Since then, Yeezy came up with an original way to premier his track “New Slaves” by projecting it on the sides of buildings throughout the world, just one day prior to his appearance on Saturday Night Live, where he performed the controversial song along with the album’s second track, “Black Skinhead.” The angry, avant-garde tone of the album was set. On Monday, June 10th, West via Def Jam invited both his peers and the media to hear Yeezus in it’s entirety. In order to avoid leaks, the album was played at a ridiculously high volume, prohibiting the use of any recording devices. With just four days prior to the release of Yeezus, the album leaked and twitter had a field day. It took the birth of his daughter (whose name has yet to be revealed) this past Father’s Day just to create some distractions from all the hoopla. Nonetheless, Tuesday is here, and with that comes the official, retail release of Yeezus. That said, we got the team together to present you with a track by track breakdown of the album. Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu, here’s the man you came to see, Kanye West.
01. “On Sight” (prod. by Daft Punk):
Kev: Kanye starts off the album tenaciously over a disruptive, raucous Daft Punk beat, to which he’s clearing out any fakers who basically claim to have lived “that life” in the House of Sin. And what a nice guy; he starts off the verse by reminding us to f*ck everything we’ve been hearing and wearing since our savior, Yeezus, has finally arrived to show the way. We get the usual witty lines like “Baby girl tryna get a nut, and her girl tryna give it up/ Chopped em both down, don’t judge em, Joe Brown” and “No sports bra, let’s keep it bouncing,” we come to expect from Kanye. The best part of this track? The 14 second spliced in sample of “He’ll Gives Us What We Really Need” sang by the Holy Name of Mary Choral Family. The brilliance in this short soul break is the line: “He’ll give us what we need, it may not be what we want.” Kanye already knows the forward thinking sounds on this album will receive criticism because people fall into the habit of liking what they’re comfortable with. And “On Sight” will definitely make some die hard fans uncomfortable. But nonetheless, it’s what the people need. Kanye is about evolution.
02. Black Skinhead [prod. Daft Punk, Travi$ Scott (co.), Mike Dean (add.)]
Steez: First making it’s world premiere on Ye’s May 18th SNL performance, “Black Skinhead” is a new direction for Kanye. From the moment you could hear the war drums pound, this track reminded me of a cross between Gary Glitter’s “Rock’n Roll Part 2” (you know, the song you hear played by every marching band at every college sporting event ever) and Marilyn Manson’s “Beautiful People.” In my opinion, this is the biggest song on Yeezus. It’s uptempo and has mass appeal. To boot, Kanye is lyrically sharp as ever: I’m aware I’m a wolf, soon as the moon hit/ I’m aware I’m a king, back out the tomb bitch.” It’s no surprise that Scorsese picked this as the themes song for The Wolf of Wall Street.. #300
03. I Am A God (feat. Justin Vernon) [prod. Daft Punk, Hudson Mohawke (co.), Kanye West (co.), Travi$ Scott (co.), Mike Dean (add.), Rick Rubin (add.)]
Julia:“I Am A God” is an abrasive track full of electro tunes and gut-felt screams. It caries the shock factor that we’ve been looking for. From Trinidad Jame$ to Nicki Minaj, many artists have been focusing on their clothing attire to get people talking. On “I Am A God,” Kanye is fighting the generation that talks more about Lady Gaga’s steak outfit than the music it produces. The new sound featuring Justin Vernon, has some of the best Kanye West quotes. Between two deep bases, the artist throws bar such as “I just talked to Jesus/ He said, ‘What up Yeezus?’/ I said, “Shit I’m chilling/ Trying to stack these millions.” These lyrics will certainly (and hopefully…) not win any prizes for their complexity, however, they might for their hilarity. None other than Yeezy can pull off saying “I am a god, So hurry up with my damn massage / In the French-ass restaurant, hurry up with my damn croissants.” And, if it weren’t embedded between truly frightening screams and an electrifying synth, these lines would be laughable. Yeezie set the accent is on conciseness. Every word is operating as a riotous punk slogan that mesmerizes the troops.
04. New Slaves (feat. Frank Ocean) [prod. Daft Punk, Travi$ Scott (co.), Hudson Mohawke (co.), Mike Dean (co.), Kanye West (add.)]
@aboynamedandy: “New Slaves” is where it all begins for Yeezus. Projected onto building walls around the world that fateful May night, the provocative record set the tone for Kanye’s ambitions on his sixth studio album. The lyrics were always going to ruffle a few feathers — just refer to the opening bar: “My momma was raised in the era when, clean water was only served to the fairer skin” — but it’s the production that stands out on the now-available mastered copy — credit due to the last-minute tinkering of Rick Rubin. For just shy of three minutes, “New Slaves” is one of the hardest-hitting rap records on Yeezus — perhaps even in Ye’s entire catalog — but the God’s typically fearless sonic shift transforms this cut into an exhibition of New Black Soul, starring the one-and-only Frank Ocean.
05. Hold My Liquor (feat. Chief Keef & Justin Vernon) [prod. Young Chop, Mike Dean (co.), Arca (add.), Rick Rubin (add.)]
Julia: “Hold My Liquor” is the elegant house ballad of the album. This track creates a relationship between My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and this one, we can picture this break up song as part of “Runaway.” The beat slowly builds up the momentum up to when Kanye starts rapping. With this new type of ballad, Kanye West contributes to the change in trend of the culture.
06. I’m In It (feat. Justin Vernon) [prod. RZA, Travi$ Scott (add.), Mike Dean (add.)]
Laura: When you’re going to be an absolute lunatic, your creations must be on par with your insanity. I can’t help but think of a quote from West’s recent New York Times interview, in which the rapper claims, “I think what Kanye West is going to mean is something similar to what Steve Jobs means. I am undoubtedly, you know, Steve of Internet, downtown, fashion, culture. Period. By a long jump. I honestly feel that because Steve has passed, you know, it’s like when Biggie passed and Jay-Z was allowed to become Jay-Z.” West’s larger than life public persona has morphed into a conflagration of Seinfeld’s George Constanza, J. Peterman and George Steinbrenner. In “I’m In It,” it appears the degree to which West is enamored with his abilities has exceeded his output. I really wanted to love this song; Justin Vernon can do no wrong, in my eyes, and with Travis Scott also involved, my hopes were high. It’s not a bad song; the problem is the meandering on this particular track is particularly self-indulgent, without enough payoff for the listener. We don’t hear Vernon’s signature squall until 2:58, and diamond lines like, “I be speaking swaghili,” get lost in the baser shuffle.
07. Blood On The Leaves (feat. Tony Williams) [prod. TNGHT, Kanye West (co.), Mike Dean (add.)]
Steez: In speaking with those that have been studying Yeezus since it leaked, many seem to consider “Blood On The Leaves” to be one of the standout tracks. Although I wouldn’t necessarily disagree, the song is perhaps one of the more dynamic cuts that showcases his artistry as both a song writer and composer. Triumphant horns and trap style drums fused with Nina Simon’s cover of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” create the backdrop for a love story gone awry. Weighing in at six minutes, with four verses that ends in an unholy matrimony, Ye keeps his ho’s in check: “To all my second string bitches, tryna get a baby, Trying to get a baby, now you talkin’ crazy/ I don’t give a damn if you used to talk to Jay-Z, he ain’t with you, he with Beyoncé, you need to stop actin’ lazy.” Preach.
08. Guilt Trip (feat. Kid Cudi) [prod. Symbolyc One, Arca (co.), Travi$ Scott (co.), Mike Dean (co.), Ackeejuice Rockers (co.)]
@aboynamedandy: The industrial influence on Yeezus is undeniable, but “Guilt Trip” is one of the few cuts that effortlessly blends this new wave, machinist sound with elements of old Kanye: slicing strings, sprinkling keys and open wounds. “Guilt Trip” is essentially an elaborate remix of Pusha T’s “Blocka,” but instead of juicing it up into an even bigger dancehall anthem, Kanye and his team of producers — S1, Arca, Travi$ Scott, Mike Dean and Ackeejuice Rockers — reshape the mould to make for one of the most emotionally powerful records on Yeezus. And let’s not forget the incredible, sorrowing croons of Kid Cudi who, interestingly enough, is the closest thing to a G.O.O.D. Music vocal guest on the album.
09. Send It Up (feat. King L & Iamsu) [prod. Gesaffelstein, Arca (co.), Daft Punk (co.), Hudson Mohawke (add.)]
Kev: The production credits on this one will make any EDM junkie thirsty for more-Daft Punk, Gesaffelstein, Arca, Hudson Mohawke. King L plays it cool with an indifferent tone on his verse, which helps it mesh into the hook and set up Kanye’s verse. Kanye humbly plays down his past club hits and says this track is the “craziest sh*t in the club since ‘In Da Club’.” He chooses to rap about how bad his chick is and the crazy amount of sex they have-topics Kanye and his listeners are very familiar with, especially coming from him. The track ends with an uncharacteristically minimal breakdown of the beat with the message of how memories outlast people. It’s a not so subliminal message that people will remember him for his impact on Hip-Hop and not how many street signs he’s assaulted. Oh, and ladies, please stop asking Kanye to get your friends into the club. He’ll just treat them like his Benz-stranded in the parking lot till the night is over.
10. Bound (feat. Charlie Wilson) [prod. Kanye West, No I.D., Symbolyc One (co.) The Heatmakerz (co.), Rick Rubin (add.)]
Laura: “Bound2” is nearly flawless. Positioned perfectly as the album closer, it showcases West’s signature style and punch, while delving into other spaces. The song pours out like syrup, its selective samples melding perfectly with West’s intonation and lyrics (“One good girl is worth a thousand bitches”). Industrial base underneath Wilson’s contributions sparks a delightful contrast.