’13 Best Albums #7: Kanye West Yeezus

Written By: @Elliottwilson January 10, 2014 @ 12:00 PM EDT

Sweet Baby Yeezus.

Many hated this album when it dropped but plenty of us have come back around. No Yeezus is not the 5-star masterpiece than we’re accustomed to from Mr. West. He went left with this dark, jarring ride. I mean if you’re still looking for reflections of then-impending fatherhood and clear insight into his relationship with Kim K, go that way.

As the paps’ favorite target told the homie Zane Lowe, this is the sound of frustration. You see the powers that be won’t recognize Mr. West’s genius in the fashion world so there’s hell to be paid. “Fuck you and your corporation, you niggas can’t control me,” he growls on the vengeful “New Slaves.”

But when Donda’s baby boy isn’t bringing it to corporate America he does find time for a lil fun. On “Hold My Liquor,” he gets loose of the (Grey) Goose with fellow hometown Chriaq troublemaker Chief Keef and Ye keeps it 312 with King L(ouie) on the riveting club-ready “Send It Up.” But you DJs be sure to fade out before that Beenie Man sample kicks in at the end.

Yeah Yeezus is flawed. “Black Skinhead” doesn’t rock my boat and “I Am A God” leaves a bad taste in your mouth like a stale Starbucks croissant. But you can’t deny the flavor of “Blood On The Leaves” and “Bound 2″. “Blood” is a 808s And Heartbreak-esque record on steroids. I still remember jamming with Jay, B, and Khaled at the listening to it on first listen. Jay made Ye bring it back and we all rejoiced. It’s crazy that the song is 6 minutes but doesn’t feel too long at all.

“Bound” is vintage soul-sample Yeezy at his best. Judging by the changing of the opening line (“Brandy’s little sister lame and he know it now”) on his perennial Fallon performance, this one is dedicated to wifey. It’s easy to keep this joint on repeat. And what more can I say about the tune’s guest star, the great Charlie Wilson? The Gap Band don delivers like the sound of the Man Above and blesses the union. You go Uncle.

On his sixth solo album, Mr. West went out of his way to prove he’s not competing musically with the new generation of rap stars he inspired. J.Cole even challenged him for sales supremacy and although Light Skinned Jermaine more than held his own, Kanye’s got the whole world excited again. Humbly playing Drake’s OVO Fest and then snatching up celebrated lyricist, Kendrick Lamar to open for him on his first tour in five years are veteran chess moves that have him looking like the victor.

Guess Ye got the last laugh after all.—YN

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  • Hussle

    Album was wack. lets keep it 100

  • Da Business

    I fux w/ Ye but shit was wack to me.

  • Yeezus Gambino

    best album of the year hands down fuck this list

  • RTH

    Smh, you guys are so out of touch. Album of the year, hands down. god only knows what you’re gonna put ahead of this. MCHG? foh. YN bitter he couldnt catch a Ye interview.

  • Word

    Wow. I thought this was gonna be number 1 like every other blog and website out there. Kudos for admitting the album isn’t as great as the reviews say. Its good and I like it more than I did on first listen, but it wasn’t best of the year and only really appeals to those who value the “art” of this album more than how it actually sounds as music, if that makes sense. I’ll take College Dropout any day and it didnt have to be THIS left field to show how great it was.

    • Dashing28

      Couldn’t have put it better myself. The album will undoubtedly influence other artists to push boundaries and be more creative (see Childish Gambino, Because the Internet) and what the album represents in terms of it’s deviation from convention is worthy of respecting.

      But the actual music itself is lacking in many ways. There’s a way to go left field and still make music that it is pleasing to the ear (see MBDTF) and this wasn’t it.

      2013 was an interesting year for rap. If artists take Ye’s challenge to make more interesting, less conventional music and Kendrick’s challenge to step up their bars, then maybe hip hop in 2014 and beyond will be very dope.

      • LetsRap

        So… 1. Name an underground artist that can articulate an album like Yeezus?? 2. If you hate this album its because you either dont like other genres of music (ie punk, rock, house etc.) that characterize Yeezus or you dont like the kanyes overly blunt but true conscious raps. 3. It is nearly impossible to say this album is “lacking” when you know the music minds that assisted with the production ( ie Daft punk, No ID, Rick ruben etc). More importantly you cannot compare yeezus to MBDTF or any of kanyes other albums musically bc of points made above. 4. the proof is in the pudding (ie Alot of the most credible music blogs are ranking it #1).5. My own opinion: yeezus is in a genre of its own compared to most, if not all, the hiphop albums of 2013. The only aspects of Yeezus you can compare to other hiphop albums released in 2013 are lyrical content and marketing which Kanye slayed. Conclusion, I wouldnt say Yeezus was the #1 hiphop album, I would say its the #1 album of the year.

    • Nathaniel

      in 2004, college dropout was about as left field as Yeezus is today. this album was like kanye’s restart button. the young people who weren’t mature enough to understand college dropout nor its impact, if you talk to them, are discussing Yeezus, today, the same way we did college dropout back then. whether this one or that one thinks it’s album of the year, or #7, or wack, wont have anything to do with how this album will, going forward, shape the sound of rap and popular music as a whole. most just can’t see it yet—like they couldn’t in 2004, when 50 was king.

      • Dashing28

        I agree that this album will undoubtedly be hugely influential, though I disagree with the notion that College Dropout was nearly as left field or polarizing. It was different in many ways, most notably the lyrical content, but it wasn’t divisive in the same way. Musically, it did a few different things, but it wasn’t a huge departure from the production we’d come to expect from Ye up to that point.

        Plus it had great songs that everyone could enjoy. Catchy, radio friendly songs. It had collabos from the backpack and Rocafella crew that drew in both crowds.

        Yeezus, whether to it’s credit or detriment, intentionally did not have radio friendly records. He didn’t make records for everyone. It was musically a huge departure from anything he’d done before. It made 808s seem trite and conventional by comparison. I think that was his intention. It was bold and interesting and, as I said before, will be hugely influential. And that will, in the long run, be great for hip hop. Much better than if Ye had just dropped an album full of conventional hits like Cruel Summer.

        But I separate all of that (the idea of the album, what it represents, it’s influence etc) from the music itself. The music is not appealing to a lot of people, including people (like myself) who fuck with different music.

        I guess what I’m saying is it may have been the most important rap album of 2013, but it wasn’t the best album.

        • Nathaniel

          well, whether or not it was best is such a subjective question it isn’t even worth discussing. i disagree, and so what? lol.

          what you say about college dropout is true. it had something for everybody, it reminded us of what we heard on the blueprint, etc. it was nice, friendly music. but that was what was prescribed for that time.

          today, the response of kanye, artistically, is to a different thing. it was 2013. he’s grown, traveled, studied, and is (as most people are, very frustrated with the conditions out here). Drake will be RR’s top album, but they aren’t paying attention to the climate of the world, nor vocalizing or giving sound to the chaos of the times. they’re just musing about drake–who absolutely is the narcissist. whose music is a part of the distraction from the reality of what the people bumping it most, face.

          i thought Yeezus, in it’s disturbing, polarizing, aggressive, chaotic essence, fit what i understand to be the spirit of the times. you always keep it funky, though, dashing. much respect.

          • Dashing28

            Much respect back Nathaniel. You always have a thoughtful perspective, even when I don’t agree. Yeah, they’ll give Drake #1, which goes along with him having the “best single of the year”, and “best guest verse of the year”. Smh. I don’t think that’s really emblematic of the year he’s had.

            NWTS seems like it’s gonna win by default. MCHG was good, but never got past the spectre of the Samsung deal, which only conflated the very real sense that Jay’s not trying as hard these days. Eminem’s album was uneven with some great moments(Rap God, Headlights, Bad Guy) and then some very skippable tracks(Stronger than I was, So Far). J Cole’s album was good, but not quite great. Yeezus, I mentioned before, too polarizing.

            So Drake kind of wins by default, I guess. Nothing Was the Same was good. The singles did well, as they always do. I liked Take Care better, and NWTS felt a little bit like retreading and churning out the same kinds of things we expected from him. T-Minus and Just Blaze were badly missed on there, but it’s a smooth easy listen and a well put together album.

            I’m conflicted because all of the things I respect about the Yeezus album (inventiveness, ambition, chaos, aggression) are the things that Nothing was the Same lacks. But ultimately, I listen to NWTS more.

      • yorapper

        Pretty much on point.

        When College Dropout came out it was soooo different. I had never heard anything like it.

        Fastforward to now, Yeezus, pretty much elicits the same response.

  • Nathaniel

    best album of the year, easily.

  • Hip-Hop Fiend

    Keep it real no rap album was anything special in 2013. Lets see what K. Dot cooks up this year

  • tjp

    I think musically Yeezus was the best album of the year – easily!

  • Honest

    Damn Elliot I see a lot of shade in this post. Ha!

  • lol Yeezus is TRASH

  • Sam Robilotta

    …in comes the “should of been #1!” and “doesn’t even deserver to be on the list!” … lol I swear the people who visit this site are not too bright.

  • Sam Robilotta

    *** Please just do away with the Ratings on this site. It’s useless. Haters are just going to rate 1 cause the internet and social media is full of cornball egotistic maniacs who think they are the shit with a keyboard and don’t possess .0000000001% talent or know what it’s like to create an album. Thanks 🙂

  • pdog

    Yeezus is Album of the Year but it’s not really a rap album so I’ll agree that it’s not number 1

  • Playboii

    That beanie man sample was dope as fuck on send it up. What the fuck is wrong with your old ass. You need to stop sucking Tyler’s dick. Yeezus is way better than that shit.

  • The Almighty

    I fucks wit Yeezus

  • Im 27 and this album sucks! When im 57 this album will still suck! Nobody wants to listen to this crap. Shit gets better with time but this shit is gonna fall back into the darkness from which ot was created! Cant tell ye what to do but i can damn sure tell what i like and will & will not support. Recycle Bin after 3rd listen tried to give it a chance but i cant. Certified Ear Killer!

  • Justin TimberBAKED

    I think we all know who’s gonna be #1 Nothing was the same

  • YouGonEatYourCornbread

    the intro to yeezus sounded like a robot being violently molested

  • Public Hairs

    ” I still remember jamming with Jay, B, and Khaled at the listening to it on first listen. Jay made Ye bring it back and we all rejoiced. It’s crazy that the song is 6 minutes but doesn’t feel too long at all.”

    YN must’ve had the only stiffy.

  • LA Tha Gawd™

    I love this album! If ya’ll like Yeezus then I kno you’ll like this. http://www.datpiff.com/LA-Tha-Gawd-Astonishing-mixtape.550689.html

  • LA Tha Gawd™
  • Sean Power

    next leg of the yeezus tour kanye going have 20 min rant at rap radar, get ready YN and B dot its coming

  • I personally thought this was his worst album.. #ShrugLife

  • Ibrahima Niang

    A furture classic

  • LuxuryRap

    Hey Elliott, I bet your opinion would be different if Ye would have given you an interview! Ha!

  • marty bookbinder

    lol the better the interview the higher you get on YN’s top albums list. I wonder where this would have landed if Ye gave him a CRWN interview. suckuh YN. and how many times he gonna use the played out nickname “light skinned jermaine”?!

  • jameal

    check out my, song plz leave feed back https://soundcloud.com/jameal-2/jameal-ft-danlocz-cosby

  • Killyoself Asap

    LOL this site is all politics. NO muthafuckin body liked this album or gave it a good review, till you come here. Shit was noisy, unlistenable garbage. Find me one real street muthafuckin bumpin this shit. You wont, cause nobody bumpin this but suburbanites and soccer moms.