yeezus

By Andy B. (@aboynamedandy)

It’s hard to believe not even two months have passed since Kanye West sent Twitter into a frenzy with the words “June Eighteen.” Thanks to innovative guerrilla-style promotion (which had the world at a stand-still — literally) teasing, extravagant performances and clouds of mystery, the hip-hop music world has been transfixed on the artist who calls himself a God. The one-man media circus culminates today in the release of Ye’s sixth solo album, Yeezus.

At only 10 tracks long, Yeezus is Kanye’s slimmest effort to date, but it’s already shaping up to be his most provocative. Not simply a challenge to hip-hop’s sonic boundaries — industrial rock, dancehall, soul, house, techno and rap all live under one roof, at times in the same room — the project is entirely unapologetic when it comes to race (“New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead”), sex (“I’m In It,” “Bound 2″) and the rapper’s notorious ego (“I am a God”). Despite early universal acclaim and inevitable commercial triumph, Yeezus is an album you’re either going to love or hate.

Which is where the Internet comes in. To help our unGod-like ears digest Mr. West’s bold new release, writers from around these here web pages have been studying the Yeezus scriptures with scrutiny. From album reviews and think pieces to news tidbits, here is the essential reading list on Kanye West’s new LP.

REVIEWS:

Pitchfork (9.5/10)
“Rather than relying on known hitmakers to augment his music, Kanye solicited ideas from exciting up-and-comers including Hudson Mohawke, Young Chop, and Arca. And even veteran producers involved in the project, like Rick Rubin and Daft Punk, were seemingly chosen not for their name recognition but their history of rule-breaking.” — Ryan Dombal

Rolling Stone (4.5/5)
“Being a work of Kanye West, Yeezus is also a brilliant, obsessive-compulsive career auto-correct. Kanye is 36 years old, a fashion-world comer and a tabloid fixture about to have a kid with one of the dozen or so people on Earth who are more famous than he is. This isn’t just a way to stay ahead of the competition; it’s a way to stay ahead of himself.” — Jon Dolan

LA Weekly (N/A)
“On the surface that’s all bravo because, you know, fuck your post-racism fallacy. But with Kanye, his rants — about celebrity, about art, about race and class — are always about personal injustices done to him masquerading as some sort of quest for social reform. Power to the people? Not so much.” — kris ex

AV Club (A-)
“Yeezus will be remembered as a lot of things — as the Kanye West album with all the screaming; as the apex of rap’s unlikely fascination with Marilyn Manson; as the biggest record of 2013 with no singles — but perhaps most significantly, it’s West’s first willfully imperfect album, the one where he let the stitches show.” — Evan Rytlewski

Consequence of Sound (5/5)
“Given that the 36-year-old makes his best music when he’s most willing to get right up in our faces, what we have here, blessedly, is a nearly too-close-for-comfort look at one of our leading provocateurs’ neurotic makeup.” — Mike Madden

Okayplayer/Big Ghostfase (3.5 Zeus Slaps Outta 5)
“So yeah maybe that boy Kanye takin risks… Maybe he not comfortable restin on his laurels n makin shit that muthafuckas is gon be like yooooooooooooooo soon as they hear it. I appreciate that he tryin new things n pushin the envelope n whatever the fuck… but it dont automatically make that shit poppin.”

HipHopDX (4.5/5)
Yeezus is audacious, ornery and miles outside of what’s expected from Kanye West, and often what’s conventionally accepted in Hip Hop.” — Justin Hunte

FACT Magazine (5/5)
“This is Kanye’s record: a cornucopia of concepts and collaborators reduced to a singular vision. That vision is what makes Yeezus stand out as one of Kanye’s finest moments. Faced with making a career defining album, he opted for a palette of uncommercial sounds and ideas that takes his artistry to a level unparalleled in hip-hop (and pop music, for that matter).” — Chris Kelly

Entertainment Weekly (A-)
“In some ways it’s a 180 on 808s: Where that album was, on the surface, his softest and most vulnerable, Yeezus comes off as his hardest — designed, as the man himself says on “”Black Skinhead,”” to “”fuck up your whole afternoon.” Believe it or not, that’s just ‘Ye being modest: This album has the potential to mess with your whole year. — Ray Rahman

Los Angeles Times (3.5/4)
“This is the work of a man unconcerned with offending women or racial historians, the voice of a soul in pure id mode, thinking with his groin and worrying little about the ladies’ vote.” — Randall Roberts

THINK PIECES:

Kanye May Be a God, But Is Drake the New King? (Myspace)
“By the time Drake releases a record, Yeezus will be old news. Even if Yeezus collects a bunch of great reviews this week, in a few months, people will be looking for something new and Drake will be right there, waiting with a new album. He’s set himself up for total veneration..” — Ernest Baker

The Conspiracy Theorist’s Guide To Kanye Wests ‘Yeezus’ (Noisey)
“The biggest clue here is the “God” featuring “I Am A God”, which ends with high pitched distressing screams. Although we haven’t seen a proper video of Kanye performing the song yet, could the sounds be made by Yeezus? Is he being tortured by corporate America? Is he killing off the slave name of “West”? ” — Ryan Bassil

Kanye hasn’t changed. He just has more people listening to him. (Tumblr)
“[In Jan ’04 at a Sundance Film Festival afterparty] Ye got up on stage in a room that had two floors. Balcony overlooking stage. Not the best environment for music performance. He started to perform. People weren’t paying attention. He could feel it. They were talking. He was frustrated. About 3/4 of the way into the song. He stopped. ‘Everyone that is not listening is gonna be mad u had the opportunity to see me perform for the first time.'” — Scott Vener

NEWS:

Q&A: Charlie Wilson Talks Recording ‘Bound 2′ For Kanye’s ‘Yeezus’ LP (VIBE)
“Being in the room with ‘Ye, he’s very particular about what he wants you to do in the studio. Yes, he listens to me and gets off on the stuff that I’m doing, but he’s very particular about what he wants you to do. But when you come up with some new lyrics or he comes up with a new adlib he is going to beat that up and keep beating it up until that thing makes sense to him.”

Interview: Assassin Speaks on His “Yeezus” Feature (Complex)
“Last October Kanye’s production team came to Jamaica. I got a call from Gee Jam Studios in Portland Jamaica that the team was there and they wanted some vocals from various artists in Jamaica. So I was invited to do some work on that. When I got there the vibe that I got was that Kanye was working on another “Lamborghini Mercy” kinda vibe.

Fast forward to about January I got a call that, “Listen Kanye got the stuff, he’s listening to it and he’s just in love with some of the things you did. We might want you to do some more things. Keep listening out.”

And then on leak day it’s just like my phone literally was almost burning up. Like, “Yo I’m in a club. What is happening to my brain? Are you on the Kanye album?” So everything just got crazy. Yeah, yeah… so that’s just incredible.”

Producer S1 Explains Why Kanye West’s ‘Guilt Trip’ Was Cut From ‘Watch The Throne’ (VIBE)
“The ‘Guilt Trip’ beat was actually made in London when I was in the studio with Kanye and Jay for the ‘Watch The Throne’ album. He always loved it but it didn’t fit the vibe of ‘Watch The Throne’ so he held it for this album.”

Kanye West Ran Yeezus Like Apple Inc., Cyhi The Prynce Says (MTV)
“‘One person wasn’t in there making the iPhone; it was the whole company,’ [CyHi] said comparing Yeezus to the revolutionary smartphone. ‘[Kanye] likes to run everything like Apple.'”

Kanye West’s ‘Musical Mind’ On Yeezus Wows 2 Chainz, French Montana (MTV)
2 Chainz: He’s one of the forefathers of just being creative in production and just taking extra steps and not doing what everybody else is doing. Some of that actually rubbed off on me.”

For all non Yeezus-related goodies, check out The FADER’s Complete Kanye West Reading List.

And for those wanting to reminisce over pre-Yeezus — even pre-College Dropout — Kanye, peep Nah Right’s Mixtape Memories: 5 Classic Kanye West Freestyles.

Yeezus is available to purchase on iTunes, Amazon and KanyeWest.com. Stream below:

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Congrats! Kim Kardashian Gives Birth to Baby Daughter
Rick Rubin on ‘Yeezus’: “[Kanye] Wanted a Stripped-Down Minimal Direction”
Kanye West: “I Think About Changing the World”
Kanye West Reflects on His Career, the Grammys, Love Life, ‘Yeezus’ & More with New York Times
Kanye West Hosts #Yeezus Album Listening in NYC (Exclusive Photos/Video)