Kanye West has always been famous for a number of traits other artists wish they had, and many they are happy to lack. Among the former, the ability to create amazing soundscapes and productions, a natural flow with rhymes and an uncanny understanding of how to market himself. The latter, an ego the size of a planet and a knack for an utter absence of understatement or self-awareness.
It’s those kinds of contradictions that make him such a divisive character. His latest release, the modestly titles Yeezus, is another expression from Casa Kanye that will invoke ire as much as it is adored.
Creating a massive buzz off the back of his performances of Black Skinhead and New Slaves on US TV stalwart Saturday Night Live, the anticipation for Yeezus has been loaded with barrels of approbrium and of excitement. The unveiling of those new tracks gave a delicious taster of what is now here – dark, visceral and sonically charged, Yeezus could realistically never have been created by anyone else in the business.
As angry as he has ever sounded on record, West comes hard out of the gates with the triple hit of On Sight, Black Skinhead and I Am A God. Although produced by Guy-Manuel and Thomas of Daft Punk, these are as far away from Get Lucky as you could possibly get. Angry, outrageous, brilliant, hilarious, they set the tone for everything that follows
But as much as this may initially seem like unfiltered rantings and unhinged productions, there is an intelligence and carefully crafted editing process at work here.
Yeezus clocks in at barely more than 40 minutes, which in these days of an hour-plus for hip-hop releases, is notable, as much as it is a clear indication that it has been minutely crafted and honed to have maximum impact in a powerful, incendiary package.