Album Review: Ye
Label: GOOD Music, Def Jam Recordings
Mellow. That’s not the word I thought I would use to describe a Kanye West album, but that’s exactly what his eighth studio album, Ye, elicits.
The intro song is confronting –the type that almost stops you from listening to the rest of the album. It goes in deep about how Beautiful thoughts are right beside the darkest. You could almost do a whole critique on the dangerous line there is in the idea of “free thought” (but that’s a whole other article).
Once it clicks to the next song and we settle into the album, we meet face-to-face with the most human Ye. Dealing with mental health, Kanye for the first time addresses his bi-polar disorder and raps that it’s not “his disability, it’s his super power”—making this album is his most honest and personal yet.
A total of just seven songs, it’s like Kanye only ripped out the first few pages of his diary and threw the rest away. Underwhelming, it ends too soon. The brevity of the album, seems a trend in the overall and seemingly last minute production. The album cover photo was shot on Kanye’s iPhone on the way to the album listening party, with one of the songs having only finished recording on the same day.
Despite what Kanye thinks, he isn’t the best rapper but as a producer, he is up there with the greats. Ye, has remnants of the old Kanye back from his College Dropout days, mixing gospel with rap. Something we saw glimpse of in last year’s Life of Pablo. It’s still hard to believe this is the same rapper that sang gospel rap song, ‘Jesus Walks’.
Ye doesn’t contain hits but definite standouts include ‘No Mistakes’ and ‘Ghost Town’. ‘Wouldn’t Leave’, addresses the backlash of those slavery comments he made and how his wife called him out for the damage it would do. In the song, there’s forgiveness and gratitude for his wife and his family for standing by him despite his careless comments. The album ends with a letter to his daughters on his hope they grow up strong and independent in the song ‘Violent Crimes’.
Four out of seven standouts isn’t a bad ratio with features including John Legend, Nicki Minaj, 070 Shake, Yung Thug, Ty Dollar $ign.
Kanye is an artist who continues to go against the grain, Ye shows that despite his arrogance he is someone wrestling with his thoughts and still learning.
Despite his questionable comments and politics of late, it would be a mistake to dismiss this out-of-the-box thinker.
Problematic, erratic, complex, innovator, designer, free-thinker. Kanye is Kanye.
Ye contains strong language and adult themes. Ye is out now on streaming platforms. We’ll hear more from Kanye in a co-project album with Kid Cudi that drops this Friday.