Cape Town – Kanye West is one of the most controversial artists in music today.
From saying slavery was choice to his support of America’s divisive president Donald Trump; the rapper not only occupies a large public platform but does it in a way no one has really done before him.
Some reviewers have looked at this album, simply titled Ye, as a triumph away from the artist’s public statements - a brilliant bite of music that can wipe out the less palatable taste he has left in our mouths in recent months - but I don’t think that’s possible. The Kanye that stormed TMZ’s offices is the Kanye that made this album that has been widely critically acclaimed.
He – and his latest album - reminds me of the Walt Whitman poem Song of Myself which says in part: “Do I contradict myself? /Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”. Because he can connect with so many people of different backgrounds and ideologies with his work but seems to reject mass thinking and acceptance, purposefully, in his public statements.
This is best reflected on one of the tracks on the album, titled Wouldn’t Leave, in which Kanye explores the juxtaposition between his thinking and his forms of expression saying: “You want me workin' on my messagin'/When I'm thinkin' like George Jetson/But soundin' like George Jefferson/Then they questionin' my methods then”.
He addresses it again on another, track titled Ghost Town in which Kid Cudi sings the pre-chorus: “I've been tryin' to make you love me/But everything I try just takes you further from me/.”
Kanye made an incredible seven-track album that is near impossible to fault (sonically), but that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people won’t be happy with what he has to say. That’s something the producer and writer is aware of himself and I think the public should accept. He’s a musical genius, but one that struggles with a lot, some of which we don’t get to see in the public eye.
I’ve listened to Kanye West’s music since his 2004 album, The College Dropout. His 2007 collection of songs titled, Graduation is one of my favourite albums of all time. It changed my life and Ye reminds me of that feeling. To me, this record is ahead of its time and I think it’s better than his last two offerings Yeezus and The Life of Pablo.
Do I think you should listen to it? Yes, I do and then form your own opinion of the man and the music because they are irrevocably linked.
Best track: Ghost Town or All Mine
Worst track: I Thought About Killing You
Sounds like: Hip-hip or rap 5 years from now.