In a sea of mediocre 2013 hip-hop releases is Kanye West’s sixth album ‘Yeezus’, arguably his best work since his first album ‘The College Dropout’. Kanye’s latest release comes off as a well-crafted, intellectual affair, filled with a level of obscure greatness that other rappers are unable to achieve. While the album’s first official single “New Slaves” made its own mark due to its sensitive subject matter, it’s the album opener “On Sight” (with Daft Punk) that shapes the album’s dark tone.
The album’s promotion proved to be unique for a rap album with outdoor movie theaters playing the video’s first single “New Slaves” – a prolific move only Kanye could pull off. “New Slaves” brings about some of his most pertinent lyrics to date as he battles consumerism with his own witty lyrical style. Album standout “Guilt Trip” with Kid Cudi is very reminiscent of the ‘808s and Heartbreaks’ days with it’s bass-heavy production. The Kanye-Cudi pair has worked incredibly well with everything they’ve done together before (see “Make Her Say”), but Yeezy’s discussion of his failed relationships here is poetic.
There’s no radio singles, no outlandish promo, and barely any visuals to support ‘Yeezus’. It’s clear that Kanye had a distinct goal to force listeners to think deeply about his lyrics, and it worked in the best way possible. The most quotable (and hilarious) hip-hop lines of 2013 comes from Yeezy’s “Blood On The Leaves”. As the beat gets more and more intense, Kanye closes the song with a verse about Jay Z’s jealous baby mama (“he ain’t with you, he with Beyonce’ / you need to stop acting lazy”). It’s music moments like this that makes Yeezy’s controversial moves in the industry seem acceptable, because his form of reality is hard for most casual listeners to swallow.