After dropping The Life of Pablo back in 2016, Kanye West has released his highly-anticipated 2018 album, ye – a seven-track album that exemplifies Kanye’s multitude of unique styles and sounds.
Throughout the past decade of his releases, Kanye West has influenced countless artists and individuals in all fields of music, and has ultimately changed the scope of both hip-hop and music production as we know it today. While he has done and said many things that his fans don’t necessarily agree with, the outspoken complexity of his music paired with his willingness to challenge and change the culture itself has remained unmatched when compared to other artists.
Up until The Life of Pablo, Kanye West’s albums were known for successfully creating a new era of music with each release, changing the trajectory of hip-hop with their influence. This can be seen with both the stripped-down rawness of Yeezus, and the structural perfection of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; both albums’ unique styles went on to be mimicked by other artists after their success. When Kanye released The Life of Pablo, it was universally noticed that the album didn’t have the same integrity and presence that his previous albums had possessed.
Now, in 2018, Kanye presents his new album ye.
Diving into the first track “I Thought About Killing You”, the first two minutes feature Kanye West sharing his thoughts in the format of spoken word, with the lyrics “I think about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you” and the abrasive line “Today I thought about killing you”. With these lyrics, it’s clear from the get-go that Kanye is comfortable with exposing his mental state in his messaging on this album.
After the intro, the album continues with “Yikes”, a track that speaks to Kanye’s addiction to various types of opioids. The lyrics describe particular highs as “menacing”, “frightening”, and how he scares himself. The song also includes poignant lines such as “I can feel the spirits all around me / I think Prince and Mike was tryna warn me”.
The most memorable part of the first half of ye appears in the third track titled “All Mine”, a track that shines with the excellence and catchiness of the hook provided by GOOD Music signee Valee. While “All Mine” mostly maintains itself in a spacial way due to the the instrumental being so laid-back, the fourth track “Wouldn’t Leave” makes up for the slower energy, as it shows the emotional side of Kanye, and introduces a wide array of samples and instrumentations that make it more complex than the preceding track.
One of the most touching moments on the album lies within the fifth track “No Mistake”. The track provides a classic hook by frequent collaborators Charlie Wilson and Kid Cudi, and can be seen as the more refined follow-up to “Bound 2”. Immediately following, the album brings us “Ghost Town” which can be seen as the most expansive track in terms of production styles. “Ghost Town” showcases many different sounds within the instrumentation, and includes features John Legend, 070 Shake, and Kid Cudi.
The final track on ye, “Violent Crimes”, adds the perfect final touch, as the beat and overall production is quite skeletal when compared to previous tracks. It’s a perfect ending to close out the album as a reflection of the sonic landscape from start to finish.
After listening through several times, it’s easy to say that ye will be a project that will grow on the listener over time. Many people are going to love this album, and many people will hate it simply due to the length, or due to their personal feelings towards Kanye.
Overall, this album delivers the artistic excellence from Kanye West that we have been seeking for a fair number of years now. While many people will try to draw comparisons to many of his previous albums, ye easily stands on its own due to the perfect production and features, and the overall delivery by Kanye West himself. ye is nothing like The College Dropout, Graduation, MBDTF, Yeezus, or any of his albums from previous years. The overall structure, premise, and outlook of the project is too different to be compared and measured with his previous projects. This is the album we have been waiting for, and we got it.