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Ye is a triumphant 8th album from Kanye West

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Kanye West isn’t one to keep his voice silent. He’s known for being incredibly crass, obnoxious, and narcissistic. In recent weeks, he’s been especially provocative on Twitter, declaring his respect for President Trump and other controversial figures. This kind of activity from Kanye immediately led to speculations about an upcoming album, which was confirmed soon after by West himself. Kanye announced that over the course of about a month, his G.O.O.D. Music label would be releasing five albums produced by himself: his solo album Ye, the collaborative Kids See Ghost with Kid Cudi, Pusha-T’s Daytona, and both Nas and Teyana Taylor’s upcoming albums.

With “Yeezy Season” in full force, Kanye began teasing his album with the bizarre single track, “Lift Yourself.” The song samples a 70s soul song by Amnesty, beautifully building into Kanye’s verse consisting of a cacophony of “whoops,” “scoops,” and “poops.” The comedic track came as a shock and left fans worldwide both confused and entertained. He then released “Ye v.s. The People,” a deeply political track acknowledging his controversial political views.

Leading up to the album’s release, West announced a listening party in Wyoming, where the album was recorded. The party was live streamed beginning at midnight central time, filled with celebrities and friends of West. Beginning with everyone circled around a large campfire, the mountains in the background showed just the last few hints of light before the music started. This release could not have possibly been more fitting, especially considering that the album did not release on streaming services until the next morning.

Simply titled Ye, the album differs greatly from the rest. As his 8th studio album, it offers a much more experimental take on the traditional hip-hop formula. Ye comes in at only seven tracks and 24 minutes long, but this short length is made up for by the sheer quality of each track. The opener, “I Thought About Killing You,” starts off with spoken-word, repetitive verses, consisting of confusing, looping phrases about premeditated murder and how Kanye says he has considered killing someone who he loves (presumably his wife, Kim Kardashian). Kanye says “I’ve thought about killing myself / and I love myself a lot more than I love you.” This confusing, rambling intro suits the album perfectly and throws listeners right into the mind of the “new Kanye.” The warbling, echoey instrumental picks up halfway through, and Kanye pulls listeners in with a Life of Pablo-esque verse.

The next track, “Yikes,” kicks off with a poppier, 80s-era sounding intro, immediately sliding into references of Kanye’s psychedelic experiences. Following the chorus, he immediately follows into a verse referencing his mental health issues and the opioid addiction that he suffered following his 2016 hospitalization. Kanye ends the song on a positive note, saying that his bipolar nature makes him a superhero and that he takes advantage of it– a very interesting way to look at that situation. Next, “All Mine” serves as a fun, more trap-centric break from the deeper lyrical content of the first two tracks. It’s a relatively simple track that covers topics like Kanye spending money, even acknowledging his braggadocios nature.

“Wouldn’t Leave” begins the transition of the album into a more focused sound, with gospel-influenced hooks and soulful layers, one on top of the other. The ascending hooks build on each other until the song peaks, gracefully sliding down into the intro of “No Mistakes.” This track serves as a tribute to Kim Kardashian, Kanye’s wife; the chorus of “make no mistake, girl / I still love you” repeats over and over again, gradually fading out into another transition.

“Ghost Town” opens with John Legend’s rambling singing, as he stumbles and falls over his own words before the chunky, rippling guitars enter. The track borders the line of uncomfortable listening, especially as both Kanye and Kid Cudi sing their slightly off-key verses. Nearing the end, “070 Shake” belts out what can only be described as a victory lap. The hook “I put my hand on a stove / to see if I still bleed / and nothing hurts anymore / I feel kinda free,” is triumphant and proud, accompanied by guitar riffs reminiscent of “Devil in a New Dress,” my personal favorite Kanye song.

“Violent Crimes” ends the album with a beautiful, soul-filled tribute to Kanye’s daughter, North. West trades his maximalist production for simple piano lines paired with the smooth vocals of DeJ Loaf, as he contemplates and accepts that North will be growing up soon. He worries that she will make decisions that lead her away from him and grow more distant, but he accepts that she deserves to have the right to live her own life. The chorus shows Kanye in a different light than he is often portrayed. While he’s still the same egotistical rapper with a bit of a god complex, he’s a father who holds his family closest to him. He’s still scared of his daughter growing up too quickly, as DeJ Loaf sings: “Don’t you grow up in a hurry, your mom’ll be worried / It was all part of the story, even the scary nights / Thank you for all of the glory, you will be remembered, aw / Thank you to all of the heroes of the night (night, night.)”

Ye is triumphant, bold, and cements Kanye’s place as an artist. It proves that he can do whatever he wants and remain successful, even when denounced for his seemingly radical views. He’s not changing his music for anyone but himself, and as he grows older, it begins to feel more and more like a victory lap. While not even close to as long as his other albums, Ye packs a punch in its short tracklist. While the album’s longevity is still to be seen, I can’t see myself growing sick of it anytime soon and will continue to revisit it daily.

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Ye is a triumphant 8th album from Kanye West