So, Kanye's album Yeezus is officially scheduled to come out tomorrow, but so many people have heard it by now that it doesn't even matter. Projected to sell as much as 500k first week, this is probably the biggest project of 2013 as far as hip-hop goes. It even has an 84% on Metacritic currently, before most reviews have weighed in on it.
Yeezus is, erm, different. You would think this was Kanye's collection of features, because it certainly doesn't sound like his usual body of work, production-wise. The soulful samples and playful lyrics are mostly absent, leaving Kanye sounding far, far grittier than ever before. There are a couple of moments where he sounds close to old Yeezy, but there's no "The Glory" or "Spaceships" to be found. Also, Daft Punk worked with him on 4 of the 10 songs, so there's that to get you excited about it.
1. On Sight - Within thirty seconds of starting the album, you know it's different. The lyrics may be typical Kanye here, but the beat is nothing like what he's used before, save maybe "Cold." Solid intro. 7/10
2. Black Skinhead - Ratcheting up the "angry about race issues" up yet again, Kanye references Malcolm X's "by any means necessary" slogan for the second time ("Fly Malcolm X, buy any jeans necessary" seems really shallow compared to this song). The production is solid,, the message is great, the lyrics are pretty good. Also note that he debuted this song the day before Malcolm X's birthday 9/10
3. I Am a God (featuring...God?) - Kanye, braggadacio? Never. Kanye even goes so far as to have a conversation with Jesus, who apparently thinks Kanye's deeming himself "Yeezus" is appropriate. "I know he the most high, but I'm still a close high" - well, at least Kanye's still humble despite stuntin on a jumbotron. Solid track, even with the crazy ass screaming thrown in. 8/10
4. New Slaves (feat. Frank Ocean) - You know, I didn't actually like the sound of this when it first came out, but it's really grown on me. The message strikes really good from the start. "My momma was raised in the era when/ clean water was only served to the fairer skin" Ye already gets onto the rant with his first line. He delivers his bars almost nonchalantly, but you can still feel passion from the beat. He puts the passion up for his next verse after the very clever bridge. This song all in all is almost ironic given Ye's rampant splurging. he somehow manages to subvert that, while touching on subjects such as the DEA and what it's like to meet Yeezus in Hampton. Post rant comes Frank Ocean, bringing a crooning melody in with him for a refresher on why the world love/hates Kanye in the first place. 8.5/10
5. Hold My Liquor (feat. Chief Keef and Justin Vernon) - Ok, this song makes Chief Keef sound good. That's all I really have to say about it. Also, Justin Vernon is the bomb. This song is mostly about one night stands Justin Vernon starts by bragging about holding his liquor; then Keef comes in saying he, however, can not. This song may be displaying sober Ye bragging about his tolerance then drunk Ye losing his !@#$ (ie: he blamed the Taylor Swift incident on Hennesy) overall beat is soothing compared to most of the tracks here, and the song itself seems pretty relaxed, which is te type of music where I believe Ye excels. 9/10
6. I'm In It (feat. Agent Sasco) - Well, uh, this dancehall-ish track is a little graphic, and the beat seems unfocused for a lot of it. Agent Sasco matches the graphic parts of Ye's verses, but the production just doesn't match mostly. Still a decent outing, but not what you would expect from Kanye West. 6/10
7. Blood on the Leaves - Wait, wait, wait. After making two tracks outlining racial issues, he flips a sample about a lynching into a song about women trapping men for their evil alimony purposes. Think a dark "Gold Digger." Production-wise, this song is probably the best on the album, and the tone of the verses are actually good. But the sample just kind of offsets it because that is one vast exaggeration. 5/10, but only because it just sounds so smooth
8. Guilt Trip (feat. Kid Cudi)- I'm confounded by how Kanye came up with the idea of sampling Popcaan's hook for Pusha T's version of "Blocka" in a song about an ex. I'm even more confused on how the hell it worked so well. And holy !@#$, Cudi, can you come up with a better way to croon that line? I seriously got chills when I first heard this on the projection videos, and that was before I even knew it was my favorite artist. Standout track. 10/10
9. Send It Up (feat. King L) - The nonchalant intro over the blaring techno!@#$ beat is pretty awesome. "I be goin hard, I got a name to prove" Chicago native King Louie boasts, and Ye helps him solidify his name in the Chi-raq rap scene by giving him a decent feature on a highly anticipated album. 7/10
10. Bound 2 (feat. Charlie Wilson) - When I saw Charlie Wilson's name, I was hoping it wouldn't be another industrial crossover track and instead a return to form for Ye, and I was pleasantly unsurprised. Flipping lines and giving an "old Yeezy" verse, backed by excellent vocals from Charlie Wilson, this sounds like it should have been on MBDTF, instead of Yeezus. It's a welcome addition to Yeezus, however. 9/10
Overall, Yeezus elt like Kanye was trying to break the mold he's been in. It's a pretty good album, but not quite up to par with his earlier work. To be expected when you dive into another genre. It feels almost like Kanye's response to Indicud, and as such....
So, Kid Cudi's taken up producing now and decided to provide 80% production for his fourth album (WZRD counts as an album, yes; it wasn't even bad.) Let's see how this goes. Keep in mind this is not based on the first listen of the album, it's definitely a grower. The more you listen to it, the closer your views will likely get to mine.
The Resurrection of Scott Mescudi - This isn't a bad instrumental. It just drags on for nearly three minutes. If you're a fan of instrumentals that sound like they belong in horror movies, it's actually pretty good. I personally think it could use some vocals in the manner of "Perfect is the Word" though. 6/10
Un$%&@wittable - Cudi with the patented ($%&@ you, Drake, we know you bit Cudi's style) half-sing, half-rap chorus. Based off the first two songs, Cudi isn't doing too bad with his production career. And he's still got his voicebox intact. Sweet. 7/10
Just What I Am (feat. King Chip, formerly Chip tha Ripper) - Stoner anthem alert. You can also use this song for a whatever-the-hell-you-are anthem, but it's more specific to the "don't judge me" variety of people. Production is amazing, lyrics are amazing. Chip is one of the best swag rappers and he shows it. To think most people know him from a !@#$%* meme from one of his freestyles is pretty crazy. Cudi comes in with one of the best verses, conscious-wise, of 2012 (the song came out last summer). 10/10
Young Lady (feat. Father John Misty) - Indie rock band + Cudi = WZRD, right? Sweet, because this song is pretty rockin. Cudi's fawning over this woman in't the most suave, but he gets credit for an awesome song. 8/10
King Wizard - If you disregard the video made for this song (really, why) it's pretty good. The second single for Indicud, it's another "I'mma do me" anthem. Cudi comes through with his interesting flow, as usual, and provides another solid production outing. 8/10
Immortal - Ok, who hasn't felt this way before? Either from telling your friends you have powers or just feeling like the night won't end for you. Vibing to this one. Better production than most songs get, as well as just in general rocking out. 7.5/10
Solo Dolo Part II (feat. Kendrick Lamar) - This song weirded me the everloving $%&@ out at first. But, again, this album is a grower. Eventually I came to terms with this song's strange sound, and then it became really enjoyable. They shouldn't have really used the Solo Dolo theme as it doesn't seem to fit to me. Kendrick with a nice look here. 7/10
Girls (feat. Too Short) - I don't really like the Too Short feature here, which is a new thing for me. He's decent, but the song needs a different feeling than he gives. Kinda throws the song off to just say "$%&@ em" 6/10
New York City Rage Fest - This instrumental is much better at under 2 minutes. Something you can vibe to for a decent amount of time and move on. Cudi showing that he's not a bad producer, even if it's simple. But hell, I loved Pharrell/Neptunes beats, why can't Cudi do simple? 7/10
Red Eye (feat. Haim) - this track is more HAIM than Cudi, but he does contribute. Not a standout track by any means, but it's good. 7/10
Mad Solar - Kinda tacky for him to spell out the song title, but whatever. Overall not a bad song, though. Beat outdoes the rapping, which is something I wasn't expecting. 6/10
Beez (feat. RZA) - This track is mostly RZA showing off, and a tribute to the Wu. It is, however, one of the best tracks on the album, production-wise and rapping wise. Not that RZA is necessarily a more gifted rapper than RZA, it's just more composed. 9/10
Brothers (feat. King Chip & A$AP Rocky) - Chip comes through and ices the beat. Song could have been two Chip verses and I would have been perfectly happy. However, we get an awkward garbage bin collectible A$AP showing, and a Cudi verse that can't really match Chip's verse. Good production saves the ending. 8.5/10
Burn Baby Burn - swag swag. Cudi spits fire. Production is decent. 7/10
Lord of the Sad and Lonely - Beat isn't good, but not garbage. Flow is nice. Good song tbh. 7/10
Cold Blooded - One of the highlights of the album, and competes with Beez and Just What I Am for most complete song. 10/10
Afterwards (feat. King Chip and Michael Bolton - And here comes the throwaway. This song would be better if it was made into two songs. The ending bit is far superior to the beginning, but that isn't saying too much, since there are a total of maybe like five unique lines in the song. 5/10
The Flight of the Moon Man - ehhhhhh. Least favorite of the instrumentals. 5/10