Kanye West's 'ye' Album: First-Listen Review

Here’s our first reactions.

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Music 
50,495 Hypes 42 Comments

It’s been a tumultuous album release for ye, Kanye West‘s newest LP. Initially, it was exciting to see Kanye back on Twitter voicing his opinions. However, it quickly turned sour following Kanye’s endorsement of Trump and showing off his Make America Great Again hat. For some, the icon — in the public eye — was free falling into obscurity. There has never been such a public distancing of Kanye. Secluding himself from the world, West adopted Jackson Hole, Wyoming as his new temporary home, shacking himself in a studio to finish not just his new album, but also projects from his friends such as Pusha T — which was released last week — and Teyana Taylor, Kid Cudi, and Nas coming this month.

Excluding the communal energy from the listening party in Wyoming, Kanye West’s ye album is a solid listen. The seven-song project features guest appearances from Ty Dolla $ign, Kid Cudi, Jeremih, Valee, 070 Shake and Charlie Wilson plus a voicemail from Nicki Minaj, who you hear rap the reference lyrics from Kanye’s outro “Violent Crimes.”

The first thing that jumps out is Kanye’s remorse for putting his wife, Kim Kardashian, through so much anguish. On songs such as “Wouldn’t Leave” and “No Mistakes,” Kanye is very candid about his marital struggles, specifically shedding light about how much his antics affected them financially and thanking Kim profusely for not leaving him and standing by his side.

“This what they mean when they say/”For better or for worse”, huh?/For every down female that stuck with they dude/Through the best times, through the worst times/This for you,’ he raps on “Wouldn’t Leave.”

It’s clear that within the last year, things were rocky within Kanye and Kim’s relationship and on “Wouldn’t Leave,” again, Kanye raps that he even gave Kim the option to stay or to leave. “My wife callin’, screamin’, say, ‘We ’bout to lose it all!’/Had to calm her down ’cause she couldn’t breathe/Told her she could leave me now, but she wouldn’t leave.” “No Mistakes” doubles down on the apology, with the chorus singing “Make no mistake, girl, I still love you.”

Another standout moment on ye is “Violent Crimes,” which finds a paranoid Kanye pondering if karma will come back and bite him by making the life for his oldest daughter, North West, difficult. He wonders about his past mistakes and “Savages” — who he likens to himself — taking advantage of his daughter. On the song, he’s hoping that North can have a prosperous future, although it will be a rough journey because they don’t live a normal life.

ye finds Kanye sharing his thoughts on death a lot and also on topical issues such as the #MeToo movement and slavery, which he touches on in the song “Wouldn’t Leave.” In April 2018, he visited TMZ and made headlines everywhere when he said that slavery was a choice. On the new record, he suggests that he has much more outrageous opinions (“I said, “Slavery a choice,” they said, ‘How, Ye?’ / Just imagine if they caught me on a wild day.”

Many wondered if Kanye was trolling to gain attention around his album. However, voicing his political views isn’t his strong suit and some of his lyrics on the album fall flat on the project. When he plays to his strengths — production and assembling a strong guest of features –ye shines. 070 Shake, a new signee of G.O.O.D. Music, will undoubtedly have momentum on her side with her scene-stealing vocals on “Ghost Town” and “Violet Crimes,” which follows up her stellar feature on “Santeria” off fellow G.O.O.D. Music member Pusha-T’s DAYTONA album.

“Ghost Town” will eventually be fans favorite song off the album as both Shake and Kid Cudi provide the melodies and hums that will make you ascend to heaven. Overall, ye is a solid LP. Listeners can tell that it was probably done and updated within the last week, just check out the cover art. It was taken by Kanye West a few hours before the album listening party. For Kanye fans, you’ll enjoy it, and for fans who are on the fence with the superstar, it won’t pull you back to standom.

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