In Yeezus’s wake, someone out there will probably make a comparison of Kanye’s career to the life, death, and life of Jesus Christ, but such a comparison would be useless. Kanye’s career contains not a single weak moment. Nor is there anything in Yeezus that could be called a death, a sacrifice, or a concession. The album is forty minutes stuffed full of nothing but Kanye West, and demonstrates another stage in the rapper’s relentless evolution, from mogul to icon to actual deity. When Kanye insists, “I am a God,” in the track of the same name, we believe him, without a moment’s hesitation.
Not since Late Registration has any Ye album been remotely similar to the one before it. Yeezus, naturally, is nothing like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It’s far more frenetic, far less constant, far tighter, and far more unhinged. One can’t picture the Kanye of two years ago screaming like he does on “I Am A God” or creating something as sheerly wild as “Send It Up” is. That latter track is aggressively hedonistic, darker and thicker than anything on MBDTF, and yet somehow manages to be more convincingly artful than anything playing in today’s clubs. Put simply, there is not a minute of Yeezus that rests on its laurels, even though the overwhelming mood of the album seems to be Kanye West’s massive fucking laurels.
This tightness — the running time is shorter than any other Ye album by more than ten minutes — means that there are literally no tracks that are less than really, really good. The ones that come closest to being merely good — “Guilt Trip” and the opener, “On Sight” — only do so because they are so raucous and full that it’s sometimes hard to manage. On “On Sight”, even Kanye and Rick Rubin, extremely deft producers, have a hard time managing vulgar innuendo, a thrashing Daft Punk beat, a cut to an old soul sample, and the line, “… and put my dick in her mooooouuuuuth.” The rest of the album, however, is one continuous launch, in which Kanye accrues various influences (I detect Death Grips, Chief Keef, and Nina Simone) and then jettisons them all in favor of himself. We gather momentum and velocity as we push through the atmosphere, starting with the ecstatic “Black Skinhead”, moving to “I Am A God” and the chilling outro to “New Slaves”. Then the album gathers such an outrageous excess of energy in “Can’t Hold My Liquor” (featuring Chief Keef and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon — a combination only Kanye could handle) and “I’m In It” (the most raucous sex song of the year, and Kanye’s funniest since College Dropout) that the listener can do nothing but laugh until the end of the grandiose “Blood On The Leaves”, which ends like an angrier “Runaway” and may be the album’s best song.
I have to touch on each song’s elements one by one rather than citing general trends because there are no general trends in Yeezus. It is a constant push from one idiosyncratic, ballsy decision to the next, and though its style is always changing, it is always, unmistakably, inexplicably Kanye. If there is one song that might epitomize the album, it might be “Bound 2”: the song has an uplifting sample, but its lyrics all seem ominous. It hops around, contradicting and interrupting itself, before finally ending on a gratified note of affirmation: “Uh-huh, honey.” But even this misses out on the darker, unrestrained sections of Yeezus. We cannot define Kanye. Probably, Kanye cannot define Kanye. If we were to ask him to try, he would probably say what God said to Moses when asked his name: “I AM THAT I AM.” 9/10
Are you uncomfortable with ambiguity? It’s a common condition, but a highly problematic one. The compulsion to quell that unease can inspire snap judgments, rigid thinking, and bad decision-making.
Fortunately, new research suggests a simple antidote for this affliction: Read more literary fiction.
A trio of University of Toronto scholars, led by psychologist Maja Djikic, report that people who have just read a short story have less need for what psychologists call “cognitive closure.” Compared with peers who have just read an essay, they expressed more comfort with disorder and uncertainty—attitudes that allow for both sophisticated thinking and greater creativity.
“Exposure to literature,” the researchers write in the Creativity Research Journal, “may offer a (way for people) to become more likely to open their minds.”
“Literature is the question minus the answer.” —Roland Barthes
i was hunting through jackie’s text posts for a certain text post and then i stumbled upon a certain other one but that’s not the important thing
the important thing is that i have been incredibly, irredeemably vain, and all i want to do now is tear it all away and be true to myself and love someone and everyone (no difference or there shouldn’t be) with such incredible force that i cease to be myself and become something both greater and smaller, something that could hold such astoundingly frank and beautiful love and kindness
“If the whole of railway technology, the whole cultural and architectural heritage that is the Italian rail station, had been designed on purpose to maximize the emotional drama of return from afar, it could not have been done better.”
Tim Parks, author of Italian Ways, ruminates on why train stations are the ideal scenario for greetings and farewells.
Follow your destiny, watering your plants, love your roses.
The rest is the shade of trees outside.
Reality is always more or less what we want.
Only we are always the same-we own.
Seeing life from afar.
It can tell you nothing.
The answer is beyond the gods.
But serenely mimics Olympus in your heart.
The gods are gods because they do not think.