Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Downward Spiral: Kanye & Rick Rubin - "Yeezus" (Early Review, Leak)

What kind of madman would spend the better part of a year recording and re-recording an anti-commercial mainstream Hip-Hop album (if that's even a thing ha) all while his celebutante girlfriend is carrying their unborn baby and steadily nearing her dude date, only to have mega-producer Rick Rubin come in and re-work the entire 10-track collection mere hours before it's deadline!? - Unsurprisingly, Kanye West. It's almost mind boggling how much steam Yeezus has garnered without a proper single or music video, aside from "New Slaves"' building-side projections across the world, and virtually no album track leakage until the Friday before it's Tuesday June 18th release! Aside from all that, Kanye decided to boldly stray away from any sort of legitimate-looking album artwork/packaging, instead opting for the ghetto bootleg CD-R look: no cover or booklet, empty jewel CD case, sparse tracklist on the reverse side, and only a Yeezus-marked piece of red tape along the side. Largely written and recorded between Paris and Hawaii, it sounds like everyone from John Legend to Daft Punk helped craft Yeezus, with countless other feature-heavy tracks presumably left at the wayside. Kanye supposedly unveiled some sort of American Psycho-inspired short film after an LA listening session late Friday night upon the album's imminent leak, which stars Kardashian family affiliates Scott Disick (playing Christian Bale) and Jonathan Cheban (as Jared Leto). "Tryna play Yeezus for the first time, baby won't stop screaming, kinda adds to the experience," Tweeted Stereogum writer Tom Breihan. "Ugh, why is there no Hennessy in my house!? I have to just like eat marshmallows listening to Yeezus, it's not the same," he begrudgingly continued.

Once you're able to accept the fact that Kanye is a complete ass*ole and realize that nothing he does or says should even be taken as offensive anymore, dare I say it and I've been saying it for years, should he then be taken as the most prolific rapper (or even musician) of the 21st century! Yeezus is chock-full of dark brooding undertones, Nine Inch Nails-sounding Industrial Rock, plenty of adult angst, Marilyn Manson samples, inter-racial dating, Bon Iver juxtaposed against Chief Keef, and just general weirdness; Rolling Stone arguably hit the nail on the head, "at it's nastiest, [Yeezus] makes Kid A or In Utero or Trans all look like Bruno Mars!" For all intensive purposes, Yeezus' sparse Electro-Rap hybrid sound is almost the polar opposite of Mr. West's grandiose My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010), which notoriously featured Rick Ross, Jay-Z, and Nicki Minaj all on one track, housed beneath it's 5 inter-changeable gold leaf-framed covers. Veteran Def Jam producer Rick Rubin was frantically called in during the final hour [literally] to help finish and "reduce" Yeezus' 10 sprawling tracks; with that said, "Bound 2" is quite easily the most old school Hip-Hop, Rubin minimalist-approach-stamped track of the bunch. Sturdily anchored by 2-3 Soul-drenched samples, "Bound 2" is a stark shift from the rest of Kanye's Electro-Rap and Dancehall-inspired tracks.

Daft Punk expertly produced Tracks #1-4: "On Site," "Black Skinhead," "I Am a God," and "New Slaves" with additional production work from RZA, Travi$ Scott, Mike Dean, Hudson Mohawke (TNGHT), No I.D. Gesaffelstein, Symbolyc One, The Heatmakerz, and Ackeejuice Rockers. Kanye, Rick Rubin, and their rag-tag team of producers/collaborators have really manged to assemble a genre-blending, and is it too early to say timeless(?), album that easily transcends the bounds of modern Hip-Hop. After a few early late night Yeezus run-throughs, I think I'd honestly have to say that "Black Skinhead," "Bound 2," "Send It Up," "Guilt Trip," and "I'm In It" are amongst my favourite tracks simply because of their sheer lef-field sample usage, semi-sonic disarray, and trunk-rattling goodness! While a large chunk of The Internet, including myself, has presumably already illegally downloaded Yeezus, please support G.O.O.D. Music this upcoming Tuesday June 18th and go pick up a hard copy; Granted, Kanye will be going head-to-head against new albums from Mac Miller, J. Cole, and seasoned producer, Statik Selektah. Honestly, my full-fledged review won't really come to fruition, until I've heard the LEGIT CD-quality version complete with possible bonus tracks. Congrats to Kanye & Kim, who happily welcomed a healthy baby girl into the world this past Saturday afternoon, although she came out about 5 weeks early, as well. Happy Father's Day, Mr. West!

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