Note: In a proper conversation, my contemporary would get more off their Kanye chest. I'm up against a word-count here.
A bright-eyed ruffian: This is an important album. Get over the VMA blunder and press controversy. You won't admit that it's a masterpiece because Yeezy can be an ass. MBDTF got a 10 on Pitchfork, and sad-sacks like you eat that stuff for breakfast.
A Robert Christgau-type: Actually, the music is my issue. Kanye’s not a great guy, but neither are a lot of my favourite artists, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
B.E.R: The music is brilliant. Yeezus Christ.
R.C.T: Look, Kanye isn’t competent on the mic. There’s an Esquire article discussing his cultural legacy that sports the rather inefficient observation “rapping was never West's strongest talent,” as if it's a minor part of the game. His songs—we'll get to his vision and words—are crucial, but this is hip-hop. I’m consistently amazed by how remedial the veteran’s flow is. Nicki Minaj leaves him in the dust on “Monster.”
B.E.R: Lyrically, Ye pours out his heart and soul, and takes no prisoners. “Runaway” is a prime example. He’s self-aware.
R.C.T: “Gorgeous” drops lines about the lacking, outdated theory that US feds cooked up AIDS to wipe out African Americans. That being said, his writing actually can be compelling. Too bad for a “creative genius”—one supposedly the “defining voice of a generation”—he’s maladroit when it comes to sculpting his verses. “Runaway,” like a lot of these tracks, is at least three minutes too long. I’m all for challenging the ever-waning attention span of the average listener, but these songs are thematically redundant.
B.E.R: The production is grandiose.
R.C.T: Consider that there are roughly three fierce producers working on each song, and that the sonic results are hardly more ambitious or intricate—as I keep hearing thrown around by people who consider anything that remotely challenges compositional modality to be complex while having never tried to produce anything in their lives—than standard top 40 fanfare. Maximalist, also, doesn’t mean intricate, and it doesn’t mean good.
B.E.R: Ye makes singular creative statements. He doesn’t tailor his psyche because an all or nothing attitude drives his art. It takes cojones and dedication.
R.C.T: It takes guts to self-censure. Kanye may address his short-comings on this record, but the weight of the world still rests tirelessly on his shoulders. It’s grating, and Ye’s irony is too insular to be funny. This was a guy who once rapped “everybody feel a way about K but at least y’all feel something.” At this point, I find it hard to muster much more than the insouciant sensation that he could probably do better.
Sambo Chilton is a restless space cadet, writer, and musician residing in Ottawa, Ontario. He is currently finishing his second year in the Professional Writing program at Algonquin College, as well as a number of short stories, essays, and ditties to hum while contemplating one’s puny mortal existence.