Yeezus review by Kanye West

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  • Released: Jun 18, 2013
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 6.3 Neat
  • Users' score: 3.9 (196 votes)
Kanye West: Yeezus
6

Sound — 7
This is the follow up to Kanye West's critically acclaimed "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," and a departure from Kanye's previous material. Kanye began recording the album in early 2013, and completed the majority of the recording at his penthouse loft at a Paris Hotel. Kanye went into a "semi-seclusion" in February and began to focus on completing the album with a rotating host of collaborators showing up to work with him. In May and early June, Kanye began re-recording some entire songs and writing new verses after the album had theoretically moved beyond the recording phase, actually re-writing a couple of songs and re-recording vocals on five tracks just hours before the album was due to be turned over to the label.

The album makes heavy use of samples, but mostly mutilates them beyond recognition. The drums are pounding, overdriven, glitched out, fuzzed, and every other kind of abused you can imagine. Vocals go from minimalistic and primal to heavily processed and everywhere in-between frequently changing up. The album opens up with "On Sight" which is musically enthralling but the lyrics seem aimed at being off-putting. The next track, "Black Skinhead," is one of the most interesting tracks with a powerful drum track and bass line and an almost chanted lyric mixed some primal screaming. The track "I Am a God" come in with the message that Kanye sees himself just a small step down from divinity. The next track, "New Slaves," has an almost Super Mario Brother's dungeon music vibe going on and has the really profound hook that Kanye would "rather be a dick than the swallower." From there the album has a tendency to blend a little bit and the individual tracks stop standing out. The first four are definitely the most noteworthy, and from there the auto-tune gets heavier and the music is less memorable.

Lyrics — 6
Narcissism, anyone? That is what you get from the lyrics here narcissism, misogyny, racism, drugs, and fury. For what it's worth, there are some really clever turns of phrase if the subject matter doesn't put you off. The vocal processing is at times minimalistic and at others wielded like a sledgehammer to completely mangle the vocals. There are numerous guest vocalists used on the album following is a list, though possibly incomplete: Justin Vernon, Frank Ocean, Chief Keef, Assassin, Kid Cudi, King L and Charlie Wilson. In general, there is a much more aggressive, almost primal, vocal style utilized on many of the tracks.

As a sample of the juvenile quality of the lyrics, here are some lyrics from a few tracks. First, from the opening track, "On Sight": "Real nigga back in the house again/ black dick all in your spouse again/ and I know she like chocolate men/ she got more niggas off than Cochran" and then it goes on to "No sports bra, let's keep it bouncing/ everybody wanna live at the top of the mountain/ took her to the 'Bleau, she tried to sip the fountain/ that when David Grutman kicked her out/ but I got her back in and put my dick in her mouth." Then from the track "I Am a God" you have: "I am a god/ hurry up with my damn massage/ hurry up with my damn mnage/ get the Porsche out the damn garage/ I am a god/ even though I'm a man of God/ My whole life in the hands of God/ So y'all better quit playing with God." Yeah, giving props to god, because you can tell he is a very spiritual person from his other lyrics. Then from the track "New Slaves" where I quoted earlier, "But I'd rather be a dick than a swallower," but it goes on to say "fuck you and your Hampton house/ I'll fuck your Hampton spouse/ Came on her Hampton blouse/ and in her Hampton mouth." I may be wrong, but the lyrics seem to be an attack at the upper class elite, but doesn't he qualify as one himself? From the track "I'm in It" you have lines such as: "Eating Asian pussy, all I need was sweet and sour sauce/ tell your boss you need an extra hour off," then "Uh, you know I need that wet mouth/ Uh, I know you need that reptile/ Uh, she cut from a different textile/ Uh, she love different kinds of sex now/ Uh, black girl sippin white wine/ put my fist in her like a civil rights sign/ and she grabbed it with a slight grind." The lyrics from the album were very disappointing as it there was a lot of promise from an instrumental point of view.

Overall Impression — 6
There are so many people collaborating on this album that I'm surprised Kanye West can even credit the album to himself, honestly. There are a minimum of 10 writers on any track on the album (I think the average is 12 13 writers on each track), and a minimum of 4 producers on any given track. One noteworthy collaboration is Daft Punk participated in working on the first track, "On Sight." There are numerous guest vocalists on the album. I've gotta be honest there are some really interesting things going on musically on the album, but Kanye's lyrics and lyrical themes just seem extremely juvenile. He's selling this album like he's so "real" and not making an album to get hits but he's still rapping about the same old tired subjects. As someone else pointed out, it is like he is trying to get a piece of the attention going to the Death Grips right now, but even so he is only willing to dip his toes in the shallow end of that pool. Bottom line is the music itself is really interesting for the most part, but the actual lyrics are tired narcissistic dribble.

101 comments sorted by best / new / date

    N-D
    Actually, I like experimental hip-hop (especially with really deep and conscious lyrics - real "undeground" hip-hop, not suited for MTV). And when I listened to this album, I was very objective (I have to say I have never heard that he had done before.) And I even liked the first 4 tracks, despite the lyrics - but the music was interesting (although it's just an attempt to copy the Death Grips fame, which are very popular now). And then the album slid down, and I got bored - sea of autotune, a lot of ego and this awful lyrics. I confess, as I said above, I love hip-hop, especially experimental, but this album - it is simply an attempt to make money on the trend of experimental/industrial hip-hop. And I also was confused by a large number of lyrics writers and music producers for each track (you can see it on Wikipedia). Overall, it's not a bad try to do something unusual, but actually this album is commercial release, trying to hide behind the mask of the "experiment", with the ultimate goal to attract more listeners and earn even more money. By the way, very well-written and objective review!
    Murasaki-kun
    I'm going to have to disagree with everyone saying they reviewed this "objectively" just because they had never heard any Kanye before. Whether or not you have heard an album from him, you have taken the impression from tv/tabloids/other popular media and have the preexisting notion that he is too arrogant. This comment, along with the review, are just misinformed on Kanye West and just don't want to spend the time discovering what he's really about.
    Darrenmce
    I haven't listened to this yet but will now. Just the fact you said that you like experimental hip-hop, I'm going to ask you try his last album "My dark Twisted Fantasy". In my opinion, it's his masterpiece. I know it's kind of unrelated but just give it a try anyway
    crosskip
    Objective reviews are boring
    dewitt
    Objective reviews are honest. It's nice to see an album get a fair review for a change and not an overinflated 8-10, but I have a feeling that it's probably got something to do with this album being kind of out of place here. If there were more people into rap music on this site, or Kanye West in particular, it would probably still have a high rating.
    Hanzi_G
    I'm sorry, but if the reviewer finds the album off-putting because of its sexist lyrics, then he clearly has little experience with hip-hop. To base your interpretation predominantly off of lyrical content is quite amateur and gives little credibility to this review. I also feel quite sorry for those here who do not realize Kanye's importance to modern music. The experimental ingenuity of this album will have a major influence on the music you will be hearing for the foreseeable future, so y'all better get used to it.
    Ibeanez
    I guarantee he will have zero influence on anything I will be listening to in the future.
    Kueller917
    A lot of people will be doing stuff that won't influence what you listen to. That's unimportant. In the hip-hop sphere though, having someone popular as Kanye taking influence from the styles of Death Grips and such has a high probability of starting a shift in the whole genre to the more glitchy style.
    unicornicopia
    I don't understand people saying this is a huge departure for Kanye, I listened to it a little and it sounded exactly how I thought it would.
    The_Dayman
    I actually liked Kanye's first three albums. After Graduation, however, a big no thank you. I had no use for 808s or even Twisted Fantasy (never really understood all the praise that album got). This album is even worse, to be honest. Kanye was always a better producer than lyricist, but the lyrics in this album are just god-awful, even for him. Sad, really.
    Shabalaba
    Really disappointing album! My Beautiful Twisted Dark Fantasy was a brilliant album, so the bar was set high for this. Ultimately, it fell way below its predecessor in basically every aspect. Black skinhead is a fantastic song though. Clever lyrics, catchy, and really epitomising the sound of the album.
    TDKshorty
    So Daft Punk worked on 4 tracks, not just one. They're both listed as writers on each track, so I'm going to assume the "writers" term applies to the music as a whole, not just lyrically but structurally and sonically as well. Hip-hop is more community driven then other genres so it's common to have a lot of people credited as writers. I'l admit that the lyrics aren't incredible, they're not bad but there's better for sure, even from his previous work. But this is predominantly a guitar site and there's hardly any rap reviews at all, so I'm not surprised you guys didn't like the album. Sonically though, I love it, I think it's some of his best work to date- every album is different and they're all standout IMO.
    BjarnedeGraaf
    Jeeeeesus... are there actual guitars on this record or is itmade by software?
    Skyvalve2012
    Probably the latter. But the guy worked with Daft Punk, didn't they teach him anything?
    BjarnedeGraaf
    last time I checked though this was Ultimate-Guitar. If this album doesn't feature any guitars (which is not said at all in this review) it shouldn't really belong here.
    fortytew
    the scope of music is much wider than guitar, and if you consider yourself a musician that happens to play guitar why would you limit yourself?
    loinmute
    I don't consider this music. Too digital and the lyrics are repulsive. The rhythms are rudimentary at best. Just my opinion, but I'll pass on this album and I'll pass on most hip-hop too.
    fortytew
    taken from another UG kanye review: guitar music? wow thats dumb, 99% of all music has some form of guitar in it, for that sake we should review flamenco, bachatta, and other non popular genres of music on this site, dont be an ***** and say this is a "guitarsite" its a music community that has way more than just guitar tabs. by mis representing this site, your making it seem simple and outdated
    centermass
    i said guitar related!! ya know ULTIMATEGUITAR.COM!!!!! and i don't recall calling anyone names grow up!
    centermass
    i have to agree i dont get it??? i'm sure there is a site devoted to rap and the like out there somewhere.. this is supposed to be a guitar related website since when is kanye west remotely involved in the guitar world or the musician world for that matter?? sorry but this stuff is talentless junk!!!! bring on the down votes please.
    vppark2
    This album has its moments but J. Cole's Born Sinner is much better. Talib Kweli's latest is also an outstanding recent hip-hop release.
    Skyvalve2012
    Got any other suggestions? I need to find some hip-hop other that is actually good (Trying to be more open...).
    Senship
    Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is a brilliant album. In my opinion his best. Graduation is an amazing album as well. Wu-Tang Clan 36 Chambers is classic. Kendrick Lamar has a terrific debut album. Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique is a classic.
    BoobuleeGroovin
    The Roots, Reef the Lost Cauze, Kendrick Lamar, Brand Nubian, Blue Scholars, A Tribe Called Quest, Black Star, Action Bronson, Dilated Peoples, Above the Law. Just depends there's all kinds of lyricists out there and beat styles. Once you find what you can get down with just poke around last.fm. That site has been murdering my hardrive space lol
    Burnzyburns
    Never hurts to go with the classics: Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Mobb Deep, Nas, The Roots.
    BoobuleeGroovin
    Mobb Deep and NaS are classics now? Man, this reminds me of how i felt hearing 90s alt on the classic rock station
    vppark2
    Jedi Mind Tricks isn't really my thing, but I do like some weird shit, like Tyler, the Creator's Wolf. However, if I had to name a currrnt favorite, it's Hopsin.
    sven.stazic
    I still got chills when I hear song "Seven" from them (AOTP... And now I realised I replyed to the wrong comment, sry)
    The_Dayman
    Would it be too generic to suggest groups like Army of the Pharaohs? I know these underground rappers get thrown around a lot when people talk about the "rap you SHOULD be listening to", and may usually be associated with "elitests", but AOTP, Jedi Mind Tricks, Immortal Technique, and Diabolic actually helped me start to like rap.
    liiiam
    Any of the other kanye albums (bar 808's it's probably a bit too autotuned), Nas, Jay-Z, 2Pac, Notorious BIG, Madvillain, Wu Tang, and Blackalicious Blazing Arrow, try some of that and see what you think
    Molomono
    You should check out Outcast's work, very versatile music everything from straight up rap to more pop like music but always rhythmical and original, for instance Return of the G has some crazy rhythmical phrasing.
    me_llamo_juan
    Outkast* My favorite. Andre's always layin down sick rhymes. Also, Big Boi's solo releases (Sir Lucius Leftfoot and Vicious Lies) have been great too. Some killer beats and great shit.
    punk4change
    The funny thing about Kanye West is that he is so pretentious and arrogant that the critical press start believing that his music is extremely deep and intelligent, and they start looking for things that just aren't there (well, that's my opinion). I do admit that a lot is creative and it is all very overwhelming, the problem is that his arrogance is as well. His self-esteem is so overwhelmingly high that I can't listen to it for longer that 10 minutes...If calling himself a black Jezus was purely humorous there wouldn't be a problem... the disturbing thing is that I actually get the feeling he's serious about it... Is this just me or?
    iommi600
    Oh, how nice, we're also going for racism here, as if musical elitism wasn't enough! Did your mom already gave you a copy of Mein Kampf?
    formerclarity
    The reviewer appears to have very little awareness of Kanye. His narcissism has a place when it's directly related to the media's portrayal of him and his relationship with the rest of hip hop, particularly illustrated in "I Am A God". The review also devotes a long paragraph citing "juvenile" lyrics, but essentially forgets the racially and socially charged lyrics in Black Skinhead and New Slaves. This is a decent album, but this is an indecent representation.
    beineken
    the lyrics on this album are fantastic. i know this is super wack to be venting on an internet comment board, but this album is incredibly misunderstood, both on a conceptual level and on a lyrical level (though the two really go hand in hand here). the conceptual stuff is too much to be worth posting, but simpler, UG didn't even listen to the album enough to get the lyric right: (from "on sight") "one last announcement, no sports BAR, let's keep it bouncin'" granted, it took me multiple listens to hear the line correctly, but sh*t like that is EXACTLY the type of stuff kanye does all over this album, almost like get your mind out the gutter. in that same song, the oddball opener to a very out-there album, he says, "how much do i not give a f*ck? lemme show you right now 'fore you give it up" before launching into a soul sample (like he used to on previous albums) singing "he'll give us what we need, it may not be what we want." even if yeezus isn't what you wanted, you gotta give the man waaaay more credit than a 6.3 for putting his work in. "Blood on the Leaves"?? you're really gonna write a review of this album and not discuss its most important (conceptually) track?? i know this is a "guitar" website reviewing a hip hop album, but honestly, every UG review i've recently has been a rundown of events leading up to the album, followed but a few lyrical excerpts and a very nondescript opinion, followed by a disembodied summary of the reviewer's thoughts. it's not a matter of poor ratings; the did the same on the tesseract Altered State review (which they gave a 10). now i'm gonna be this guy, but if you really want to see a thoughtful review of this album, check out pitchfork's or consequence of sound's. /rant
    pwninator123
    Exactly, the album is genius and the artist is fantastic, and while this website should broaden its horizons with the music it covers, that requires an education in the material. The users and employees of this site obviously know absolutely nothing about the amazing world of Hip-Hop, and they should educate themselves before publicly putting out something so embarrassing.
    Second Rate
    If I had to take a guess.... I would say you probably came up listening to mostly standard issue alt rock. Then at some point you became the only one of your friends who owned a rap CD, so now you think you're some type of expert on the subject, some type of sage. If I had to guess, your knowledge of hip hop doesn't extend much deeper than the banality of Jay Z and Kanye West, but being the only white guy in town that listens to "black" music, you think you're something special. No one in your real life gives a damn about your opinion... so you venture into the basement, hop on the computer and go talk down to people on the internet because they can't give you a sock to the jaw for being a pretentious know it all. Am I in the ballpark?
    pwninator123
    Oh God that's hilarious. No, my first Rap album was one I bought myself, Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star. I love all music, and have yet to find an artist I dislike or can't enjoy on some level. And people on this website who hate Hip-Hop and know absolutely nothing about it are pathetic. It's a beautiful genre of music that is disparaged for all the wrong reasons. But the race bend you tried to go for was cute.
    HostileFTW
    Yeah, this review doesn't understand what Kanye's doing with the narcissistic lyricism. It's not that he actually believes everything about himself he's saying, rather, he's parodying the image of himself. That said, this isn't an album you should base your opinion of Kanye on if you've never listened to him before. Go listen to his discography in chronological order and you'll understand the album better.
    guitarist5477
    I respectively disagree. Hearing Kanye speak about himself, and his actions outside of music, really makes me believe in the narcissistic egotistical person he truly is in my opinion.
    Mr_Mojo_Risin'
    This site is becoming less guitar oriented and more general music news that has nothing to do with guitar oriented. Hence this Kanye article! If you aren't going to focus on guitar call it ultimatemusic.com
    GeekInThePink
    You sound strikingly like a Christian fundamentalist talking about the "moral decline in America."
    FlyingPirahna
    I love the music on this album, but I agree, he really slipped lyrically on this one. Even though MBDTF had a few wack lines, there were plenty more good ones to outweigh them. It's reported he wrote (and recorded!) five or so of the songs' lyrics in a two hour span, and it really, really shows. That said, the lyrics on both Black Skinhead and New Slaves are still ace. Angry Kanye is gold.
    Alcofuel
    He's just ripping off Death Grips and Dalek
    pwninator123
    By sounding nothing like them? Judge by sound, not by label.
    Alcofuel
    Because none of the songs on Yeezus sound like an attempt at jumping on this pseudo-industrial hip hop thing that the internet has been jerking to for at least a year or anything. Also implying I haven't listened to it. It's a contrived attempt at jumping on that, and it's going to become baby's first "expirimental" hip hop album. That aside, musically the album is average at best and most of the lyrics are laughable and worse than dog shit. This isn't even be shitting on him as an artist in general. This is purely this very meh attempt at this pseudo-industrial hip hop thing.
    Burnzyburns
    "There are some really interesting things going on musically on the album, but Kanye's lyrics just seem extremely juvenile." That's Kanye West in a nutshell. He's easily one of the most important hip hop producers since 2000, but when he's the one actually rapping the lyrics are god awful. Well that's my two cents, I'll go back to listening to all the 90s all stars rapping over DJ Premier beats.
    EqualOfHeaven
    I remember sort of liking a few tracks from The College Dropout and then getting really bored of it, and since then I've been wondering exactly what the hell anyone sees in Kanye West... Also fishdicks.
    pwninator123
    Oh, he just took one of the most beautiful genres and completely revolutionized it himself, also owing Jay-Z's fame to his incredible beat-making.
    liiiam
    His stuff isn't perfect by any means, but runaway, gone, family business, blame game, and hell of a life are really good songs, with great production and decent lyrics, and he sampled iron man on hell of a life, give some of that a listen and see what you think
    noahsirlouis
    This review is awful. If you dislike rap or the lyrics that come with rap, then don't review rap albums. You could make an argument that this was this the best album Kanye released. So maybe we should have rappers review rap albums. Metalheads review metal albums. Country artists review country albums. If that makes any sense to anyone.
    rgt42dx
    I can give props for trying something new, but to my judgment it's still crap. I definitely think he has potential to make good stuff (subjectively according to me of course), but he's never been that talented and I still don't care to pay attention to him.
    ernasty10050
    For the record, none of the producers had heard of Death Grips, nor did anybody working on the album listen to Death Grips during production of Yeezus.
    Alcofuel
    I don't take their word for it, because Death Grips has been fapped to constantly for the past year or so. Anyone paying any actual attention has heard Yeezus before, only done better. Plus, that doesn't rule out the idea that some of them very well could have heard of groups like Dalek and Techno Animal. This has been done numerous times before, and it has been getting more popular recently. I find it very difficult to believe no one working on Yeezus has heard any of these things before.
    RebelDawg13
    Shouldn't a website called Ultimate Guitar only review albums that have, ya know, actual guitar in them? Or at least some real instruments.
    Kueller917
    I might have actually agreed with you until you pulled the "real instruments" thing. Everything can be an instrument. Stop limiting yourself. Onto the album, I liked some of the tracks like New Slaves. But overall felt like listening to a lighter version of Death Grips but without much redeeming quality. Ok album but I'll still find myself listening to Twisted Fantasy more. I'm a sucker for that kind of over the top style.
    RebelDawg13
    I wasn't arguing that the album, or any other electronic record, isn't music, I was arguing that a review of it didn't belong on a site called Ultimate Guitar. Probably the main feature of this site is the guitar tabs, and the forums are composed almost entirely of guitar and instrumental based music. I wasn't commenting on the quality of the album or the genre, just it's relevance to this site.
    Kueller917
    The majority of the music reviewed on this site is guitar music though. Reviews of electronic music are rare and usually for popular releases. I don't see a problem with an occasional branch out. The website still remains predominantly about guitars.
    RebelDawg13
    Ok, that's fair enough, it's just that this album, and industrial/electronic rap in general, is as far off from guitar based music as one could possibly imagine, and I do think this site should avoid reviewing such albums.
    pwninator123
    a) Music reviews are reviews of music. b) You string-head dolts don't seem to realize how incredibly goddamn difficult synths and beatmaking are. Do you realize they not only have to master and compose on an instrument, but BUILD THE GODDAMN INSTRUMENT FROM THE GROUND UP? Seriously, ****ing educate yourselves, this whole userbase is embarrassing.
    Second Rate
    Well, maybe instead of being a pretentious twat, you should "****ing educate" yourself, hmm? "Beatmaking" does not require the mastery of an instrument. It is a completely different skill set. All of your histrionics and insults will not change that fact.
    GuitarHawk99
    Why are there so many dislikes on comments?! I mean, it's ok to have a music review on ultimate guitar... But why defile the review pages with kanyee west??!
    Kueller917
    Kanye is a pretty great producer so why not? He has his flaws but then so do a lot of other bands that are reviewed here.
    chiefmegadeth
    WTF is this on UG.com i dont get it. Only real thing in rap is the vocals and thats not saying much at all. Insult to Musicians everywhere. Could of at least put a rap band on here thats uses real instruments. Sad day for UG. There is a reasom i come to Ultimate Guitar.com
    iommi600
    OK, excuse me the words here, but... EVERYTHING THAT CAN PRODUCE MELODIES AND MAKE MUSIC IS A BLOODY MUSIC INSTRUMENT. YES, COMPUTERS ARE INSTRUMENTS. SYNTHESIZERS ARE TOO. YER FUCKING IPOD IS. A BROKEN BOTTLE IS. A ROCK IS. RAM YER ELITIST TALK UP YOUR SHITTER WOULD YA? *Breathing out* Have a nice day, sir.
    Ibeanez
    Ignorant and contradictory.
    Kueller917
    A musical instrument's definition is "a device used to produce music". Music itself can be defined as any arrangement of sounds by the artist. There was nothing in iommi's post that contradicted that.