Kanye West’s New Album: Is it a “Ye” or Nay?
By Kimberly Grabiec
Earlier this year, Kanye West remained relatively under the radar, only mentioned in discussions about his wife Kim Kardashian and the rest of their family. In recent months, however, West returned to the spotlight with controversial political statements made on Twitter and in interviews. His support for Donald Trump and extreme views on slavery both confused his audience and fueled his haters. On April 25, West posted, “You don't have to agree with Trump but the mob can't make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don't agree with everything anyone does. That's what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” Following this, he posted an image of his signed “Make America Great Again” cap, symbolizing his continuous support for Trump amidst the backlash. To make matters worse, he told TMZ interviewers that “Slavery is a choice.” This combination of political statements disappointed many of his followers who viewed him as an icon and beloved representative of the African-American community. In light of Trump’s blunt racism throughout his presidency, West’s support of the president was seen as a huge step back for Trump’s protesters. Christina Yoon, Adv. 903, said, “Kanye West is an extremely influential figure and he should’ve thought about the potential effects and negativity that would come out of his decisions.”
The excessiveness of West’s recent statements have had a huge impact, and although they have turned many people against him, they have also gained him a lot of attention. For this reason, some people believe that his statements were a poor attempt at a publicity stunt for his new album, ‘ye.’ One song on the album, “Yikes,” specifically mentions the events at TMZ where Kanye says, “Yeezy Yeezy trolling OD, ha!/Turn TMZ to Smack DVD, ha!” West’s asides to recent events may validate the publicity stunt theory, but also adds to the unfinished nature of the album. The lyrics of the songs and their reference to West’s tweets and interviews make it clear that a bulk of the songs were created recently, which the music itself implies as well. The production value of many of his songs is rather lacking compared to other of his albums. Excluding a few of the top songs on the album, many of the songs lack depth or even a stable beat.
“Ghost Town” seems to be West’s main track on the album, as it features popular performers John Legend and Kid Cudi. Unfortunately, this song felt extremely forced, and West’s vocals were lost in the mix. The song took on a slower and more somber approach but failed to make as big of an impact on the album as was expected. The featured artists took over the song, leaving West behind. Another popular song from the album is “All Mine,” which combined the stylings of Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign in a more successful way. With a lighthearted topic and music that matched the theme, this song left a better impression.
The “ye” album was a short 23 minutes and its brevity was a blessing to some who disliked it. Esther Huescas, Adv. 911, said, “‘ye’ was by far not my favorite Kanye album. Following his recent statements, this album was hard to listen to.” Others disagree, and believe that the short length of the album allowed West to make all of his songs more powerful and meaningful. Zainab Umardeen, Adv. 909, said, “I liked the album because it was very personal, but he should have used it to clear up his statements instead of supporting them further.”
Although this album did not exceed or even meet many people’s expectations, at the very least the album was not as disappointing as it could have been, considering West’s recent political statements and personal decisions. Some of the songs were successful in showing a different side of the artist, such as “I Thought About Killing You,” which shows a darker side to his music. A few songs, including “Wouldn’t Leave,” highlights his family and more sentimental parts of his life, which is appreciated. Still, West lost many fans due to his controversial opinions, and for many, no new album can help him regain his audience’s respect.