After what could only be described as an epic buildup consisting of controversial statements all rolled up into one seemingly endless Twitter rampage, Kanye West has finally released his eighth album, Ye.
Given his prodigious output of Kanye-isms since returning to social media earlier this year — and his general predilection for, well, going on and on — it comes as a bit of a surprise that Ye is a compact product. West did inform everyone in April that his album would be just seven tracks long (but who believed him?). Those tracks add up to a tight 24 minutes.
’Ye (the man), however, manages to pack that precious time to the brim with ponderable lyrical matter, with the result being an efficient — and, of course, disturbing — look into his current mindset. He name-drops a variety of characters, among them Russell Simmons and Tristan Thompson, but it’s the more personally contemplative lines that offer an imperfect but fascinating glimpse at his psyche.
Here are a few of the standout sentiments he drops throughout the project, in no particular order.
“This is what they mean for better or for worse, huh?” (Track 4: “Wouldn’t Leave”)
West addressed his controversial — to say the least — comment from April, categorizing slavery as voluntary: “I said, ‘Slavery a choice,’ they say, ‘How, Ye?’ Just imagine if they caught me on a wild day.” However, we knew he was going to have to say something about this, so it’s much more interesting to examine his reflections on wife Kim Kardashian’s frantic response to the firestorm.
And it’s not even her frantic response (which he also details) that is the remarkable thing here. West summed up what it’s like being married to him neatly in one simple line. It’s pretty safe to say most brides aren’t forecasting this kind of situation when taking their vows.
“I could have Naomi Campbell / And still might want me a Stormy Daniels” (Track 3: “All Mine”)
This song is ostensibly dedicated to West’s love of girls who are “basic,” but this lyric stands out as the closest reference he makes to his infamous “brother,” Donald Trump, who allegedly had an affair with the latter-named adult-film actress. It’s a big surprise that Trump is not directly called out on this release, given that ’Ye shares so-called dragon energy with him.
“I think about killing myself / And I love myself way more than I love you” (Track 1: “I Thought About Killing You”)
West addresses thoughts of homicide and suicide, wraps it all up with the reassurance that he’s just as self-engrossed as ever, and then in an avalanche of understatement confesses that sometimes he thinks bad things. “Really, really, really bad things.”
“That’s my superpower” (Track 2, “Yikes”)
What is his superpower, you say? It’s apparently not dragon energy — it seems to be those really, really bad things that go on in his head. West flips the narrative here and outright embraces his mental health issues, asserting that they are a positive distinction and a strength. In other words: “Ain’t no disability.”
“I had debt on my books / It’s been a shaky-ass year” (Track 5: “No Mistakes”)
West didn’t seem to be having too much issue with income in 2017 — he even closed out the year pocketing a tidy profit from selling his Bel-Air mansion — but, then again, stars’ ideas of “shaky” might be a tad different from those of the general public. At any rate, such sentiments suggest he’ll be doing some touring in support of this release.
“Now I see women as something to nurture / Not something to conquer” (Track 7: “Violent Crimes”)
West addresses fatherhood here, specifically the challenging aspects of parenting two daughters. Listeners might be a bit put off by his bald examination of what his infant and kindergarten-age little girl will grow into — and who will be preying upon them — but his overall sentiment is one of the rare points that the average listener can grasp.
Aside from the lyrical matter, West’s release is a tour de force of his usual unusualness. He chose to have his release party in Jackson Hole, Wyo., an ultra-white, ultra-rich domain. According to a tweet from his wife, he snapped the photo for the cover himself (perhaps he was reeling from paying $85,000 to license a photo of Whitney Houston’s bathroom for the cover of Pusha T’s Daytona), and scrawled what appears to be a last-minute “I hate Being Bi-Polar. its awesome” sloppily across it.
— Def Jam Recordings (@DefJamRecords) June 1, 2018
As a snapshot of his current landscape, the album serves as yet another chapter in his dark, twisted fantasy. Are we any closer to understanding West? If we are, rest assured he will find a new way to confuse us, yet again.
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