Few artists, across any genre, are as polarizing in the 21st century as Kanye West. His latest album “ye”, does not seem to relieve any of his previous criticisms. Clocking in at a mere 23 minutes, the album is a flash flood of West’s personal struggles, and they are not always easy to listen to.
The opening track “I thought about killing you” immediately throws us into something that sounds less like a song and more like a confession. He openly is speaking (not even rapping) about how he thinks about killing others and himself. The rest of the album tells the story of Kanye West as a father, husband, and someone who struggles with mental illness. The album cover, a Wyoming mountain landscape with the words “I hate being bi-polar, it’s awesome” scrawled in neon green verify that, yes, Kanye West, the mega-celebrity married to Kim Kardashian, deals with very human issues (in his own Ye way).
“The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest”, the opening lyric to the album may be a reference to his acclaimed 2010 album“My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. Kanye’s allusion to this album, which largely dealt with the struggles of his newfound fame and success, hints to the listener that West is still struggling with the chaos of his life and being famous. Immediately after opening line, Kanye dives into thoughts of homicide and suicide in a very casual manner. He even addresses what we, the audience, want him to speak about, but how he is going forward with what he wants to say.
Kanye has a reputation for how he manipulates the human voice and utilizes orchestral music to create the bases of his beats. In “ye”, he continues to do this on tracks such as “Wouldn’t Leave” and “No Mistakes”, while also incorporating the aggressive music and electronic noises found in his album “Yeezus”.
“ye” finds a way to stick true to the direction Kanye West is heading, and possibly an indicator of what is to come. Incorporating the gospel sound of “The College Dropout” and “Graduation” while also creating something deeply personal and honest. “ye” isn’t the kind of album that you will hear playing on the radio too often or one that you’ll request at the party. Instead, it feels more like something you sit down in your room, throw on your headphones, and really listen to. If you can get the uncomfortable nature of the opening track, this album is actually quite good, with a lot of catchy hits.