This afternoon, our generation’s renaissance man Kanye West debuted his new album on a live stream around a fire in Wyoming. Introduced by Chris Rock, the live stream saw rap royalty and fans alike getting down to what is truly Ye‘s return to the throne.
Honest, gut-wrenching, catchy, and redemptive, the record – simply titled Ye – reminds us all why Kanye West is one of the most important voices of our time.
This is merely an initial reaction, not quite a review, as the stream ended after 2 run throughs of the record, so much like everyone else who viewed it, I’m still processing it. As of the time of publication, the album is yet to appear on major streaming services.
What struck me the most about the album was its honesty. The brash, audacious, and intentionally shocking raps that dominated so much of his previous release, The Life of Pablo are gone. In their place is honesty and self reflection, a record full of introspection and thoughtfulness. This is easily his best work since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Gorgeous beats and infectious melodies abound on the album, and Ye deals with themes of self doubt, love, anxiety, mental illness, prescription drug addiction, and parenthood. He addresses some of his more recent controversies surrounding his much derided comments about slavery, and seemingly takes a few shots at Drake, perhaps weighing in on the current beef between him and Kanye label mate Pusha-T.
Many theories have circulated that Yeezy‘s recent controversial behaviour and questionable single releases (Lift Yourself and Ye Vs The People) were designed to draw attention to him prior to this release, to cause people to wonder if he’d lost his edge, or his mind, only to quell any concerns and prove his worth on Ye. If this was the mission, it was a resounding success.
A brave, solid, honest and powerful release repositions Ye as an auteur, and demonstrates why he has so much value to the world of hip-hop, and the world at large.
Today I thought about killing you, premeditated murder
And I think about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you, so
The most beautiful thoughts are always besides the darkest
I think this is the part where I’m supposed to say something good to compensate it
So it doesn’t come off bad
But sometimes I think really bad things
Really, really, really bad things
And I love myself way more than I love you
See if I was trying to relate it to more people
I’d probably say I’m struggling with loving myself because that seems like a common theme
But that’s not the case here
I love myself way more than I love you
And I think about killing myself
So best believe, I thought about killing you today