Kanye’s Sixth Album
At 10 songs spanning just over 40 minutes, this is Kanye West’s second shortest album. Released in June 2013 it is his sixth studio album. Yeezus received very positive reception from critics initially. The album most notably received a 9.5/10 from the notorious critic Pitchfork. For some listeners, the sound clicked immediately. Others considered the album to sound messy and distorted. Those who consider the album to have a disturbing sound are not wrong in the slightest. With constantly changing beats, it is almost impossible to predict what’s coming next, even after multiple listens.
Ahead of it’s Time
The album contains features from Frank Ocean, Kid Cudi, and even the rising star Chief Keef. At the time, Chief Keef was a mostly underground “mumble” rapper from Chicago (like Kanye). Kanye is known for taking risks, but putting mumble rap on his 2013 album is one that paid off for the long term success of Yeezus. The combination of Kanye’s influence in hip-hop and use of mumble rap in this album certainly had something to do with the rise in popularity of mumble rap in the years after 2013.
Going along with Yeezus’s theme of unpredictability, it is interesting to note that these featured artists are not credited in the song title. Kanye’s only other album to do this is The Life of Pablo. This may be a result of Travis Scott keeping features unlisted on his latest two albums. Similarly, other artists nowadays are neglecting to list features, possibly to spark interest in new music.
I have been on a Kanye listening binge recently, due to his upcoming album “Jesus is King” releasing this Friday 10/25 (supposedly). Although he’s one of my favorite artists, I know Kanye is notorious for not following release dates, so despite hoping for the new album, I’m expecting nothing.
In the meantime, I’ve been listening to the rest of his discography, which is nothing shy of fantastic. Of Kanye’s 9 studio albums, Yeezus stands out to me for a few reasons:
It kind of sounds terrible (at first)
- At first listen, Yeezus sounds like an overproduced nightmare. After a few more listens, you may still think that. Eventually, you realize that this is exactly what Kanye intended! Thus, it takes more than a couple listens to dissect the layers of Yeezus, which is why it is the epitome of “grower” albums (an album that you may not appreciate until after many listens).
The lack of listed features
- As I mentioned before, Kanye lists NONE of the features on this album. At first, it baffled me as to why he would not want to display the names of the famous artists he spent so much time and money working with. Then, it hit me! At only 10 songs long, Kanye didn’t want listeners judging certain songs by the listed features before they even listen to it.
- Known for crossing genre boundaries, Kanye has never kept anything from making the music he wants. Rapping over electronic synths and huge bass drops was fairly uncommon before the release of Yeezus. Regardless, the album sparked a movement in music, which popularized electronic-heavy artists like Future, Travis Scott, and Lil Uzi Vert.
Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out for a blog about “Jesus is King” next week (if it actually drops on Friday). Be sure to subscribe to my email updates here.
Listen to Yeezus on Spotify