June 2, 2018

Two Gut Reactions (Including My Own): Kanye West - Ye (June 1, 2018)


I don’t follow rap artists for their personal or political views: if I did, I would be a horrible fucking person. I mean, have you heard about how some of these guys feel about women? But Kanye West is a special snowflake, in that he’s incredibly outspoken about what he feels are unique views but are really shared talking points conceived by the alt-right, white supremacists, and other supporters of the fat couch in the White House that will still likely kill us all just to make a few more bucks, and yet, he's a fucking moron who admits to not studying history and doesn't read books. His stance on slavery, especially, had lost him a significant number of fans and inspired thinkpieces from many journalists and music critics who proclaimed him “cancelled” and told anyone who would listen that they would never listen to any of Kanye’s music ever again.

Until West debuted his eighth solo “album”, the seven-track, twenty-three minute, self-produced (with a bunch of collaborators, as is his way) ye, at an exclusive listening party in Wyoming, where he’s been holed up in a studio prepping his label, G.O.O.D. Music, for their summer 2018 lineup. ye is merely the second of five projects allegedly coming our way (following last week’s Daytona from Pusha T, which made a lot of waves, almost all of which stem from a single track and not from that album as a whole), but it’s the one everyone was most curious about, so those same fans, journalists, and music critics excitedly boarded flights to Wyoming and have praised Kanye as a genius, dancing along to soul samples and surprise celebrity sightings at the party, exposing themselves as the starfuckers they truly are. It apparently never occurred to any of these folks that Kanye West was merely using them to promote his product and further his own agenda, as everything the man does stirs up the media machine, so they fell right into his trap.


Anyway, as I wrote above, ye is Kanye’s eighth album. It was announced almost immediately after his last project, the never-truly-completed The Life of Pablo, and was once called Turbo-Grafx-16, after a gaming console that most of his stans aren’t familiar with, as it was well before their time. (It was also once called Love Everybody, and the album cover was to feature a photo of the doctor whose negligence killed his mother, Donda West, on the operating table during a plastic surgery procedure: 'Ye was trying to let go of his anger and forgive the man, but the doctor quickly shot that idea down, so I assume that concept was also abandoned. (I almost wrote "cutting-room floor" there, but that would have been insensitive.)) After suffering a mental breakdown during his Saint Pablo tour (and possibly destroying his working relationship with his Throne partner and "big brother", Jay-Z, who currently wants nothing to do with the man), he cancelled the remainder of the dates and checked himself into a hospital. Upon release, he snuck away to the rural environment of Wyoming to collect his thoughts, and when he was ready, he chose to give this whole music thing another go. (He also chose to open his mouth about his continuing Trump support, as living in a world of his own making prevents him from seeing just how fucked up shit really is out here, but one could argue that he’s always lived in his head, except for that one moment of clarity post-Hurricane Katrina. Living exclusively in your head can be a bad thing, though.)

ye comes during a time when ‘Ye is only interested in releasing short projects, the opposite of the double- and triple-albums his current competitors drop on a regular basis in the hopes of gaming the streaming system and earning gold and platinum plaques much more quickly. The album artwork is a photograph he took on his iPhone on the way to the listening party, a far cry from the $85,000 he absolutely had to spend on Pusha T’s Daytona cover. Although the album did drop on its intended release date of June 1, it wasn’t made available until well after midnight on the day of, because Kanye West believes himself to be above all rules. Many will say that none of the negative stuff he's done will matter if the music is any good. I believe that you, as a human being, are smart enough and capable of believing two things at once: that Kanye West is very good at making music, and that Kanye West is a fucking idiot.

Speaking of believing two things at once, today’s write-up is actually a combination Gut Reaction and Reader Review post, as frequent contributor Taylor has graciously offered up his own thoughts on ye to accompany mine. So keep in mind whose viewpoint you’re contesting in the comments section, you two.

1. I THOUGHT ABOUT KILLING YOU
TAYLOR: Instead of starting off with a song, Mr. West does about two minutes of saying absolutely nothing, and then goes on to do the worst impersonation of a trap rapper I have ever heard. The beat is the saving grace: it's kind of simplistic with its choir and its hypnotic drum pattern, almost making you feel like you're listening to a modern version of Old Kanye. I say “almost” because lines like, "Ye, Ye, Ye, Season, [censored], we obey" and, "Get so bright, it's no sun" ruin the vibe with attempts at cleverness, over-simplicity, and over-complexity. How can a song be both over-simplistic and over-complex? You'll have to ask Mr. West about that.

MAX: ye opens with a spoken-word intro from our host with light musical accompaniment, which starts off bleak for shock value’s sake, but with his dark thoughts soon turning onto themselves, his self-awareness attempting to embolden his pretention. And then the one-verse wonder kicks off over the same instrumental, and it’s bland as hell. But then the real beat kicks in, and I regret to inform everyone that it is actually fire. Lyrically, I wish he had stuck with the introduction’s theme, as his self-awareness flies out the window almost immediately, even though he may have been on the verge of a breakthrough. Okay, not really, but his obvious trolling could have been an entertaining diversion. But that beat though. I wonder if the rest of ye will hurt my head this much. (I assume so.)

2. YIKES
T: If you've listened to any of Kanye’s albums from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and before, then you’ve likely noticed that the rhymes are at times subversive, clever, and witty. You'll see a rapper who could easily impress anybody with his deceptive looks and freestyle skills. Now listen to “Yikes” and compare it to any of the tracks on any of those albums. It seems that Mr. West has forgotten how to be an entertainer and is now in full on "artiste" mode, and yes the “e” is intentional. Kanye is so focused with vocal inflections and making words sound cool that he seemingly has nothing to say and no idea how to rap, and this is a guy with cred we're talking about. Like the previous track, the beat is the saving grace here: it has a grimy factor to it that rappers would just die to spit over (I nominate ScHoolboy Q). So far, the beats on ye are keeping me from banging my head on the desk in frustration.

M: The music underneath “Yikes” was alright. It was simple, but pretty fucking catchy, and it could have easily slid onto Daytona. Was Kanye the best artist to rap over it, though? He usually never is, and that holds true on “Yikes”, an aggressive three-verse tirade about how his meds have turned him into a superhero. Or something. I will applaud the fact that he doesn’t believe his mental illness is anything to be ashamed of: by seemingly embracing his diagnosis, he is taking the power back, and that could possibly inspire a lot of people. But this is still Kanye West we’re talking about here, so he fumbles the ball by defending Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons from his recent rape allegations (which were recently dropped, sure, but that still isn’t a hill worth dying on, ‘Ye) and altering recent history by believing that he didn’t get verbally smacked down on TMZ by Van Lathan. Our host uses a fairly engaging flow without saying much of anything: “Yikes” could have earned a spot on my playlist had West not proven himself to be a musical genius-slash-huge asshole I’d rather not support. (There will be no attempt by me to suggest actually purchasing ye in any form at any point during this review. I like buying stuff from artists that deserve the support, but for now, feel free to do whatever the fuck you want in order to hear this project. I won’t tell.) Two notes I found intriguing, though: (a) both Reverend Run and Russell Simmons, who are brothers, are mentioned within the same verse, which is certainly the only time that’s ever happened in 2018, if ever, and (b) let’s all read into shit and say that the line, “Hundred grand’ll make your best friends turn to opps” is a subliminal aimed squarely at one Aubrey Graham, who is (allegedly) currently offering just that for dirt on his current nemesis, Kanye’s good friend and thunder buddy Pusha T.

3. ALL MINE (FEAT. TY DOLLA $IGN & VALEE)
T: Finally, we get a Kanye West that at least remembers how he’s performed before. The flow is definitely classic Kanye, with the vocal inflections, witty lines, and everything else that comes with... except the lyrics. They lack meaning and purpose: I couldn't find any message other than, "I'm an artist, watch me say absolutely nothing while you love it.” The music also receives a severe downgrade: aside from the strings at the very beginning, the gunshot effects laid in throughout, and Ty Dolla $ign’s singing, none of this is interesting. I could go so far as to say it makes Yeezus' production sound good.

M: Oh cool, a gross Kanye sex rap. Can’t have a ‘Ye project without one of these. And this one is especially offensive to the senses of anyone with any type of genitalia: actual bars include, “I love your titties ‘cause they prove I can focus on two things at once” and “None of us would be here without cum”. Ugh. I have to assume he writes the sex stuff himself, because otherwise all of his co-writers must have absolutely no idea how sex works. Our host brags about wasting time with “basic” girls because he can, which sounds like he’s compensating for something, while he blackmails the newest G.O.O.D. Music signee Valee (whose debut EP, GOOD Job, You Found Me, while not a part of his label’s summer promotion, dropped earlier this year) into comparing his ejaculate with a “genie out the bottle”, which, yeah, “All Mine” is really fucking terrible, you two.

4. WOULDN’T LEAVE (FEAT. PARTYNEXTDOOR, TY DOLLA $IGN, & JEREMIH)
T: This is Kanye West's love letter to his wife Kim Kardashian West. But don’t come to “Wouldn’t Leave” looking for vulnerability or sentiment: this falls cleanly into the same-old, same-old "I'm devoted, we're going to make it through this" bin, but with a side of pretentiousness added for flavor. The music here is melodic and somewhat emotional, so you can at least feel Kanye's every word even if there’s no substance to be found. Sometimes, adding a piano and some 808 drum hits does the trick.

M: For a song ostensibly about how much Kanye loves his wife, there’s no there there on “Wouldn’t Leave”. The music underneath barely fucking exists, which wouldn’t be a problem if #MAGA were a compelling-enough artist to distract the listener from focusing on the empty space, and on here, he absolutely is not. Our host touches on how his acting like an absolute goddamn moron in public keeps fucking up his relationship with Kim, but he feels empowered by her love and support and will continue to do stupid shit anyway (Yep, the whole “slavery was a choice” thing pops up on here) because she refuses to leave him. He calls in no less than three separate crooners to help push whatever message there allegedly is on here across. I get that he loves his wife and doesn’t feel like he deserves her. That’s relatable. And I fully understand how someone can fuck up even with the unconditional support of their partner. That happens often. It’s likely happened to you in some fashion. But it’s really fucked up of him to try to wave away his slavery comments the way he does at the beginning of “Wouldn’t Leave”. “Oh, you know, ‘Ye’s gonna ‘Ye!”, right? No. Fuck that shit. What he said was disrespectful to a huge swath of people, including his own fucking ancestors. That’s not okay. Also, this track was boring as shit, although I will admit Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign came across as okay doing the service they were paid to provide. (I’m no fan of PARTYNEXTDOOR. Sue me.)

5. NO MISTAKES (FEAT. CHARLIE WILSON & KID CUDI)
T: Best song on the album. Forget about Kanye's lyrics, though: the star of the show is the instrumental, which chooses the perfect sample choice to brings out the waterworks of even the toughest men. This actually feels emotional and substantial, giving ye a weight that it hasn’t yet reached nor even deserved. Of course Kanye tries his best to ruin everything with his now-common unsubstantial lyrics, but even though he gives it his all with the boasts, he gets overwhelmed by the music,  thus saving the track. Anybody else think somebody else has taken over Mr. West's body?

M: Do you think T.I. is offended by the line, “I don’t take advice from people less successful than me”? The entirely of “Ye vs. The People” (which, thankfully, didn’t make this “album”) consists of our host flat-out ignoring all of Tip’s criticisms: it was basically a tweeted photo of a text exchange set to a beat. Anywho, “No Mistakes” is a one-verse wonder where said one-verse wanders in from a completely different planet: the hook, provided by Charlie Wilson (I had been wondering where he was hiding) and The Need For Speed’s Kid Cudi, resuscitates our host’s more soulful sound and was clearly intended for a love song, perhaps one that would serve as a coda for “Wouldn’t Leave”, but ‘Ye can’t be bothered with all that shit, spouting random nonsense while claiming he’s has “a shaky-ass year” (although some of his lines toward the end of his verse could be interpreted as an actual shot at Drake, unlike that fake theory from above that I'm pushing). “No Mistakes” is a no from me, dawg. Wilson and Mescudi both sounded just fine, but what the fuck were they even doing on here? Also, Kanye West no longer associates with anyone that is more successful than he is. Insert Slick Rick vocal sample from “Hey Young World” here.

6. GHOST TOWN (FEAT. JOHN LEGEND, KID CUDI, & 070 SHAKE)
T: With the worst track on the album, Kanye attempts to go for that anthemic My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-type sound, while mixing in a little bit of 808’s and Heartbreak, and the result is a confused mess that doesn't know what it wants to be. It feels like one big pity party, except the pity has been replaced by arrogance and egocentricity. It's got a soundtrack of rockin' guitars and distorted synths that ultimately grate on the ears, in addition to lyrics that mainly consist of the various contributors yelling out whatever comes to mind that they feel is "emotional". There is nothing about this song that warrants your time.

M: If this is a preview of what we should expect from next week’s West/Cudi collaboration Kids See Ghosts (which it might be, as this was allegedly included on an early tracklist of that future project), then it’s possible that it could be decent, especially if that project features the same lack of ‘Ye that “Ghost Town” does. (Which it won’t, but it’s nice to dream again.) Musically, this track evokes My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, with the production (duties were split amongst Francis and the Lights and West himself, as well as others) recreating the overall mood of that project, but while our host delivers one (terrible, let’s be real) verse, more screen time is dedicated to Rhymefest’s songwriting buddy John Legend, Cudi, and newcomer 070 Shake, who provides a long-ass outro that sounded pretty damn good. Mescudi was whatever, but he fit the musical backing much more seamlessly than our host. Don’t go into this one expecting a “song” in the traditional sense. Or, even better, don’t go into this one: 070 Shake’s going to have at least one more appearance you can check out instead. That’s how this industry works.

7. VIOLENT CRIMES (FEAT. DEJ LOAF, TY DOLLA $IGN, & NICKI MINAJ)
T: We've reached the end of ye with a beat that's retro, but modern at the same time. The synths, in combination with the piano, provide an emotional backdrop which allows Kanye the rare moment to let go of his feelings, even if everybody knows they're bullshit. Kanye's performance holds a bit more weight thanks to the music, but there are songs where he talks about his family in a better, more substantial way.  Credit to the beat, though, for weaving and turning in such a seductive way: his collaborators behind the boards are the real heroes tonight, because we all know modern-day Kanye West couldn't produce an album all by himself.

M: ye ends with a father wishing that his daughters wouldn’t ever grow up, a logical progression of Kanye’s lines from waaaaaaaay back on Late Registration’s “We Major” (and also his verse on Watch The Throne’s “New Day”, albeit gender-swapped). His concerns are valid, especially given his life in the public eye, so for a moment you’ll feel for the man’s struggle, right up until you realize that his daughters (and his son) are Kardashians and are, of course, fucked. But I sympathize with the sentiment: “Violent Crimes” contains some of the most relatable lyrics of Kanye’s career. Why is it called “Violent Crimes”, though? Well, at one point he fantasizes about beating the shit out of his daughter’s partner for mistreating her, and who among us with kids hasn’t thought about doing that exact same thing to anyone who wrongs their family? The problem here, and it's a fucking huge one, is that it seems like it just occurred recently to Kanye that his daughters, and all women, are human beings with autonomy, so while the sentiment is one that many will relate to, his descriptions of his various concerns come across as side-eye worthy (especially his worrying about the eventual shape of his daughters' grown-up bodies, which honestly does not matter, guys are fucking creeps), and the fact that they appear on an “album” positioned so closely to another song where our host treats “basic” girls as sperm receptacles dilutes the message significantly, as Kanye West is one of those Internet pervs he’s so fucking worried about . Musically, there were a lot of questionable choices, as well. The instrumental is slow and steady, which gels with the subject matter: setting these words to the beat from “Yikes” would be borderline sociopathic behavior. But Dej Loaf? Not my first, second, or even tenth choice. And throwing in that voicemail from Nicki Minaj at the very end just reinforces the fact that she wrote Kanye’s verse, which isn’t in any way a bad thing, but it’s weird to hang a lantern on it while the track is still playing.

THE LAST WORD:
T: ye is inconsistent and unsubstantial. The lyrics are those of someone trying to rap like Kanye West and are so forced that I lost faith in the man while writing this review. The production is also inconsistent, but listening to the melancholic beats made me feel like this project had a bit of potential, like there could have been something if he had spent more time in the kitchen. Which is the main problem with ye: the album isn't developed enough. It's almost as if Mr. West now believes that quality control isn’t a concept he needs to take seriously, and that, coupled with his slipping grasp on reality and his support of Trump, whose name is not synonymous with quality, produced this album. Even though it's short, and even though there's some strands of good ideas here, you'd be better off listening to My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, a relic from a bygone era when Trump wasn't president and Kanye West had the ambition and drive, if not the common sense, to craft one of the finest pop albums ever made.

M: There are many reviews, tweets, and IG posts from Kanye West stans, alt-right fucks, and music critics who would rather stay on the good side of any artist instead of respecting them as human beings who don’t always put out perfect product, and anything I say that opposes that status quo could be seen as heresy for the remaining twenty-four hours where ye will still be relevant, so I want to make this very very clear: Kanye West’s ye isn’t very good. At all. It sounds like a project rushed to meet an arbitrary deadline of his own making, one where all of the ingredients combine to form his second-worst album behind Yeezus, which at least had an entirely new and different sound going for it. The praise I’m seeing online about how ye is like if My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy had a baby with Yeezus, but that baby kept getting bit by their dog The Life of Pablo so they abandoned the baby at the Late Registration firehouse, is all ridiculous, but also incredibly accurate, and here’s why: ye doesn’t achieve anything, literally anything new of its own making. All of this shit is stuff Kanye has done before, and he’s done it better. His moronic beliefs and his family’s horrible influence aside, ye manages exactly one-and-a-half decent tracks (“Yikes” and the part of “I Thought About Killing You” when the actual instrumental kicks in, but only if you pay more attention to the music and not any of the bullshit he spouts) that, if this were any other artist, would be celebrated, but this is Kanye West. He’s created classics. None of this will ever meet those qualifications. And so everyone can go about the rest of their lives ignoring the fact that this even exists, because it adds nothing to your quality of life. If you still choose to listen to it as some form of misplaced rebellion, that’s on you. Just lower your expectations significantly: West may think of himself as a god, but that doesn’t make him one.

-Max & Taylor

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34 comments:

  1. AnonymousJune 02, 2018

    I can honestly say with hesitation that I’ve REVILED this whore ever since he picked up a microphone. He’s also not as musically brilliant as everyone proclaims him to be. Surprised that it took the rest of the world 14 years to figure that shit out.

    Fuck Kanye West and fuck his in-laws.

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  2. Its weird how its mostly white people who appear to be super offended by Kanye's recent talks. He already clarified, though it was already obvious what he meant if you have a brain, that when he said slavery is a choice he meant that if youre born into a certain situation you end up being locked into a mode of thought (especiall if the situation has been going on for 400 years) that you automatically feel you cant get out of, hence the importance of thinking *differently* (emphasised for the irony of the outcome of his doing so...)

    You know, Sarte said the same thing about being tortured, that you choose whether youre free or not. And what Ye said is relevant to today and how we get locked into certain ideologies - such as the notion that democracy is real (loool) when its really determined by economic forces and flows that must be maintained, or that if youre black you really ought to vote Democrat, when it doesnt really matter given the first point, or that Obama was automatically a brilliant liberal even though he was the fucking Drone King and murdered thousands of people in his two terms.

    You should get your head out your ass and re-review the record, its excellent.

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    Replies
    1. Found the snowflake!

      Delete
    2. Max,what does that even mean? You spent the entire review shitting on the record because of Kanye's apparent ignorance and you respond like a moron.

      Delete
    3. carl weathersJune 03, 2018

      its good to see that other long term kanye fans who are also black are reading this blog.

      Delete
    4. I spent about two-thirds of the body of the review shitting on the songs themselves, whether the beats were weak (most, but not all, were) or the lyrics were terrible (all of them, and while he didn't write them all, he CHOSE them all, so he's still responsible). Whereas you can only say the album is "excellent" without offering any evidence. At least I gave my thoughts, which rambled than usual due to the quick turnaround of this piece, but I don't care about what Kanye "meant", I care about what he SAID, and he hasn't done anything to defend himself properly.

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    5. For someone who reviews rap records you're telling me you dont try to uncover what is meant by what is said? I dont see why a rapper should speak differently in interviews than he does on records, if you dont get it you need to decode in both. And he did "defend" himself to the extent that he elaborated on his thoughts further after all the misleading headlines blew up, its on twitter still probably.

      I dislike that he gives any time at all to that grotesque moron Trump, but only as much as I dislike that Pusha T helped Hilary's campaign (everyones on prison reform right now - shes a major part of the reason its needed!), but to "cancel" someone who continually pushes the medium forward because his views dont conform with your own is just fucking stupid, really. What's the endgame, that he shouldnt make music?


      Reasons why 'ye' is excellent:

      - He's perfected the sonic collage approach he put forward in Yeezus (which both reviewers seem to hate for some reason, I suspect neither of you have really listened to much music outside of rap, try some Brian Wilson or the Velvet Underground or something) through seamless transitions (as on the first track and No Mistakes), the alignment of vocal delivery with sound effects (last verses of first track and All Mine especially), and leaving it bare and ragged where appropriate (Ghost Town, seeing the seams here lends itself to the honest pain and yearning of the lyrics; the sonics fall apart as much as the performers' mindset)

      - Lyrically his expression of mental illness is both honest and important, the bipolarity of egoism and his fears informs most of the lyrical content making for his most emotive album since 808s (which I personally thought was shit, admittedly), there's some nice disses (I think the Simmons ref is a diss as he was pretty patronising in his "prayers" for Ye), and humorous lines... if you can take a joke

      - Combining those two points, this record seems to me to be the album he wanted to put out at the time of TLOP. Theres enough tracks during that period to constitute two regular length records really - one all bluster and swagger, the other of dark introspection. Clearly he went for the former and threw in some of the latter in the middle of TLOP (FML, Real Friends, Wolves). When you hear the leaked songs like 'I Feel Like That' you can see that it was a struggle for him to be honest about his state, and so even though he apparently made most of this album in the past month its not as if it hasnt been on his mind for a long time; the speed just shows how talented he is

      - The length of the album is a good thing! He's trying to steer rap albums back into being an artform rather than just a money spinner with a shitload of weak tracks (remember that period in the late 90s where youd have something like 3 good songs, 7 average ones, and about 10 skits?). Also it encourages repeat listening, which again affirms the art of the album in the age of streaming and the crazy amount of songs we have access to.

      Weaknesses:

      - I dont much care for the two family focused songs, though I think theyre well done and enjoy them when I hear them, I wouldnt listen to them outside of the album; too R n B for me.

      - Kanye has perfected his sound, his next album should focus on being a tight lyricist - and no ghostwriters! - its the only place left to go imo

      - I think theres a volume boost at track 5, obvs having all the tracks levelled out the same wouldve been good

      Delete
    6. AnonymousJune 03, 2018

      Jay. You are white.

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    7. Anon, I'm not white. Though I bet I know why you think that. Its the same reason people like me don't get the jobs we deserve. The same reason Kanye is so pissed off all the time. The same reason I'm pissed off half the time.



      (It unconscious bias. Figured I should clarify since you're likely an idiot.)

      Delete
    8. AnonymousJune 06, 2018

      I agree with Jay, but I'm white. I guess I'm a racist? Or an idiot? Or both?

      Delete
    9. Assuming you're talking about strictly of his opinion of the album, not necessarily.

      That said, Jay is almost certainly a right-wing (most likely white) troll pretending to be a disaffected black leftist.

      Delete
  3. AnonymousJune 02, 2018

    I like how you two had very different reactions to some of the individual songs, but ended up in the same place overall.

    I think this is easily Ye's worst album: while I'm no fan of Yeezus, that was at least better developed, had a more interesting/new sound, and a couple songs that are part of Ye's pantheon. I'm not taking basically anything away from this.

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  4. AnonymousJune 02, 2018

    from now on I'll be checking hiphopgoldenage blog coz Max keep ignoring all the good album e.g Evidence weather or not Styles P G-host and dj premiere which way iz west just to name a few

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    Replies
    1. Cool. Appreciate your support of the ongoing project of this blog, which would easily explain why you're not seeing those artists pop up.

      And if you want to see them do badly on this site, there's always the Reader Review option.

      Thanks for reading!

      Delete
  5. Max, I've been one of your two readers for years! I love this site and I love your reviews. I've been refreshing your site every few hours over the past two days hoping to see this review. I didn't think you would like it, but I'm let down and disappointed by what I read. You let your personal biases take over this review. Even when you liked a beat you regretted liking it. This site is part of my life, so I'll always be a reader but this is a let down.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't, and don't, regret liking any of the beats. My issue is with the lyrics, which have taken a sharp downturn in quality as his career is progressed, as he's switched up co-writers. And it is truly impossible to divorce the art from the artist st this very moment. (Even Taylor mentioned the Trump stuff.) I don't think "personal biases" about basic human decency are inherently bad for a review, and I've written about every single Kanye West album, so the themes presented aren't new. Perhaps had I pulled a Pablo and waited two years to write about ye, this would read a bit differently (it would certainly be shorter, I mean damn), but the shelf life of this project is roughly equivalent to its run time.

      Can ge do better? Absolutely. But will he? Given his current set of circumstances it's hard to say.

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    2. Thanks for the reply Max. You did regret liking the beat at the end of track 1 when you said "...I regret to inform everyone that it is actually fire." That just seems odd to me, and biased. But to each their own and it's your blog. Again, im disappointed by the tone of this review but I'm still refreshing every day to see your thoughts on Black Thought and I'll be back checking for your review of Kids See Ghosts as soon as that's out. Just because we disagree would never change my love for this blog.

      Delete
    3. I chose that specific wording to subvert expectations. I put that in there for the folks who refuse to listen to anything Kanye touches now.

      Put another way, it was a joke, which are in abundance on the blog.

      You'll be waiting a long time for a Kids See Ghosts review - I'm so far behind on Cudi that it doesn't make any sense for me to use this as an entry point.

      Delete
  6. I find it pretty funny that he becomes borderline obsessive when working on Pusha T's project and yet rushes his own like it means fuck all to him.

    Do you guys think Nas' album will be any good? I'd like to think so since Kanye's at least shown that he's kept his aptitude for producing for other artists but Nas' beat selection has been kinda suspect for a long time now.

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    Replies
    1. Nas himself is pretty suspect to me right now. But beat-wise, for me he course-corrected a bit with Life Is Good. I just wish he hadn't aligned with Kanye, as they've only done like three songs together or something, and while I liked those, the producer told should have gone to Salaam Remi or one of the new cats (since we'll never see him and Preemo together again, it seems).

      Delete
    2. @Vinay Karamil: On a technical level yes – Life Is Good is easily his third-best album re: production and arguably in technical quality, and he's never had as bad an ear for music as e.g., Canibus or Eminem. On a moral level…*maybe* if it steers clear from presenting itself as an introspective endeavor (not enough time to course-correct, no apparent inclination to course-correct, and Life Is Good suffers A LOT from the recent revelations.) Can't really support more than a stream, here.

      @Max: The other old-school producers I would've chosen are Muggs and Buckwild. For the new cats, Digi+Phonics, Knxwledge., Frank Dukes and Vinylz come to mind.

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    3. I don't personally believe Nas has, or has ever had, the energy required for a Muggs collaboration, but Buckwild could work, and Frank Dukes could be a sleeper.

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  7. AnonymousJune 03, 2018

    this is the most 'meh' Kanye album I've ever heard. at least yeezus made me feel a certain way, this is just forgettable at a time in Kanye's career when he himself is at his most unforgettable (for better or worse)

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    1. I was tempted to just write "meh" as the body of my review, but I figured you two may actually have wanted to read words.

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  8. AnonymousJune 03, 2018

    Max, the Turbografx 16 was one of the most underrated game console of the early 1990's(along with the Neo-Geo). The Bonk games are probably one of the most underrated games in the history of platforming gaming. Also, I'm sure you have heard about Kelis saying that Nas physically abused her. Even if this is true, you can't deny that Nas is one of the greatest artists(not just rappers) in the history of music(not just in hip-hop).

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    1. The original cut of my post (see, I did actually edit stuff!) made a reference to Bonk's Adventure being the only game I really remembered from the Turbo Grafix-16, so you mentioning them is kind of funny. I dug them, but I was a SNES guy.

      The Kelis accusations (and also the allegations from his previous partner) cause me to look at his catalog differently, especially Life Is Good and the pro-Kelis tracks on Streets Disciple. I've made no secret about how I'm not the biggest Nas fan, but he has one classic album and several terrific songs afterward, but he can still be a problematic artist that I wouldn't necessarily want to support. However, I agree that the accusations are just that, accusations, not recorded fact as of yet, so I'm also watching things play out.

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  9. Thanks for the review, saves me enduring the actual music.

    If you're going to be arrogant enough to release a 7 track project it had better be something special.

    Regardless of the accusations I'm still interested in how the Nas album comes together.

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  10. AnonymousJune 05, 2018

    lame ass albums but we love your blog Max keep up the good work don't let our beloved genre die I live the fact that no matter how much we criticize some of your choices but you stand your ground and u respond to us once again thank u south Africa loves MAx

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  11. AnonymousJune 05, 2018

    South Africa loves you Max don't give boy we always discus your album reviews at school one big love my bro from the other side

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  12. AnonymousJune 06, 2018

    What are some of your favourite non-rap albums?

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    1. Interesting idea for a side project, Max?

      Feel free to review some of The Smiths...

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  13. AnonymousJune 06, 2018

    I only listened to this album once and I don't have a take, but I thought the first half sounded like a new direction for him, and the second half sounded like an amalgam of all of his work. I really enjoyed it, but I need to listen again to have a real opinion.

    I do think your looking way too far into his politics as Kanye is a provocateur and a marketing wizard, which is my opinion that I posted on your Pusha T review.

    I also think Kanye's voice/flow are incredible, even on that Pusha T track. The lyrics are entertaining to me. I should probably read them closer.

    Also, to anyone insulting Kanye because he collaborates, you have to admit it's his ear that determines how this stuff ends up. None of these people individually put out anything like the final product that Kanye ends up with. I believe people underestimate Kanye's true impact on these records.

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  14. AnonymousJune 13, 2018

    KIDS SEE GHOSTS

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