Kanye West peers deep inside his own soul on his eighth album and finds a howling vortex of nothing
Written and arranged in the space of a month and recorded in just one day, there is something admirably DIY and punk about the way Kanye West brought his eighth album to life.
The fact that it was borne out of a year of chaos, dumb public pronouncements, and a very public breakdown for this very 21st century pop star also promises much for Ye. Is this Kanye finally stripped bare (or barer than usual), an all-revealing confessional that might bring us into the heart of his malfunctioning genius?
Sadly, no. Ye very much sounds like it was, indeed, written and arranged in the space of a month and recorded in just one day.
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Even at 23 minutes and seven tracks, it still sounds like a self-indulgent sulk from the most self-indulgent pop star in the world. Hip hop’s Trump kicks the whole thing off with I Thought About Killing You, a warped, oscillating synth number on which Kanye free associates about murder and self-love.
He follows that chin-scratcher with Yikes, a hyperventilating churn of self-affirmation on which he declares "That’s my bipolar for ya, it ant no disability, it’s my superpower, I’m a superhero", which is nothing if not positive.
With West rapid cycling like this, it might be worth paying close attention to the lyrics but do they bear examination? For a man who once mined a seemingly bottomless pit of verbal invention, too many of the lines here are bemusingly surreal non-sequitors, which he clearly hopes the faithful will receive like tablets of truth.
All Mine is several minutes of sparse, percussive sleaze in which he sings in a distracted falsetto about Kerry Washington, Naomi Campbell and Stormy Daniels. Wouldn't Leave, featuring Justin Vernon on synth, mentions Kanye’s recent pea-brained comments about slavery and avers that his wife - the deathless Kim Kardashian- called him screaming and crying after his words went public.
No Mistakes has the good taste to include samples from the Edwin Hawkins Singers, Slick Rick and Orange Krush which at least saves this slice of blabbering and jabbering from Kanye, during which he mentions Ice Cube, a rapper who had something to say.
At best, Ye sounds like a petulant case of "will this do?"and at worse, it’s just a booming and bombastic case of sonic indigestion. **
Alan Corr @corralan