College Dropout was the sound of a hungry and slightly angry young black man who wanted to change the world
Late Registration was that man making use of every means he had to drive the message home
Graduation was his celebration of success
808s and Heartbreak saw him at his lowest point, depressed, foregoing his achievements in favour of baring his soul for the world to see
MBDTF was the sound of that man disintegrating – struggling with fame and controversy, he embraced his villainous image
Yeezus was the moment in which fame and his own insecurities broke him down – at this point, the man resolved to focus on his new-found love instead
The Life of Pablo was the point in which he accepted his place in the world, struggling once again with his bad habits and insecurities, reflecting on everything that came before.
Kanye West, as a persona, died with The Life of Pablo. On ye, Kanye no longer plays a role – he is not the pink polo backpacker bringing “real” rap back or a controversial megalomaniacal asshole. On ye, Kanye does what he hinted at on tracks such as “FML”, “Real Friends” or “Saint Pablo” – he comes to terms with himself.
This album is the first time in which Kanye no longer masks his truth – he admits his mental issues to great length on “I Thought About Killing You”, his past drug addiction on “Yikes” and even how his family life changed him on “Violent Crimes”. The mood of the album is bittersweet – even if it contains moments of darkness, Kanye feels at peace with both the negatives and positives of his personality.
It also feels like the end of Kanye West as a solo entertainer unless he and Kim divorce and he comes back with a break-up album. I’m really happy that he got to the stage where he can look at the present and be contented, but the truth is that this album is not that great beyond the message.
Musically speaking, ye feels less developed than any of his previous albums. I can’t think of many negatives – there are few, if any corny over-the-top Kanye lines, and each song has its own personality, but I feel that his past albums were far more interesting in their composition and production. ye also suffers from a lack of highlights – there are no memorable moments like the “bam bam” drop, the “Father Stretch My Hands” beat switch or anything like that.
In spite of that, this album is incredibly consistent – each track is great in its own right and the level of quality is upheld throughout the compact runtime. Much like Pusha-T’s Daytona, ye is also quite the grower, thanks to how short and focused it is, so repeat listens are recommended; I’d say the third listen is when it all came together for me.
I feel bad for the people that expected the more “insane” Kanye that we became used to this decade, but something like MBDTF, much like most of the man’s music, worked precisely because of Kanye’s personality and state of mind, which it mirrored perfectly. The ye Kanye no longer has it in himself – he is Kanye the father; a superhero who finally seems to be content with his life. All we can do is celebrate his journey, destination and the art he’s left us with.
Thank you, Mr. West. It’s always a pleasure.
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When I’m not busy being a corporate drone, you’ll find me writing reviews and essays about music, video games, films and other nerd stuff encompassing all eras.