Kanye West is like an open sore.
Ye, Kanye West's 8th studio album, was released June 1st, 2018. There is always a mystery surrounding Kanye West ever since he started going off the deep end. His recent accusations surrounding slavery and Donald Trump on Twitter have put him in some hot waters and has diverged his fan base from those that listen to his music and those that see him as a role model and a person of high influence. However, this is nothing new for West, since the same type of thing happened around his Yeezus album and, honestly, ever since he got big. This new album is only 24 minutes in length but is the most open and personal Kanye gets with his fans in any of his albums.
The album tackles a lot of issues from mental illness to self-harm to family, and that's just the surface. Ye starts off with "I Thought A, bout Killing You," which is exactly what it is about. Kanye states that he "loves himself way more than he loves you," "you" being himself as well since he addresses in the next song and on the cover of the album that he is bipolar. He has also thought about killing himself several times. So, using straight-forward logic, he has thought about killing "you." There is a dark side that starts to open right from the first song and we see a different side of Kanye compared to the loud and bombastic bangers like "Gold Digger" and "All of the Lights" from previous recordings. "Yikes" follows that song up with more talk on mental illness and his obsession with drugs which has affected his personal life. He ends the song with an empowering line that can be applied to anybody with mental illness, referring to his bipolar illness as a superpower, not a disability. A lot of people see mental illness as an issue in their lives and it can be an interference, but it shouldn't be the only thing that defines you.
"All Mine" focuses on previous topics that Kanye spoke on such as supermodels and porn stars. However, he looks at it from a different perspective where instead of Kanye being the one focusing on sleeping with several women, he is talking about the innate want of a man to want women and sometimes that can lead men to do stupid stuff. I am unsure of Kanye's feelings on homosexuality, but he did not address that on any of his songs or recordings, most likely because that doesn't apply to him. The song flows nicely, lyrically and sonically, into the next song "Wouldn't Leave." The song is dedicated to the good wives and girlfriends who stay with their man through the good and the bad. This is referring to all the recent tweets that Kanye posted that started to derail his fan base and make him lose a lot of money. It is kind of a sentimental song that can be applied to most relationships, even if the one he is singing about is an interesting one. "No Mistakes" is just quite a short song, lasting only two minutes, rapped over a Slick Rick sample. There is not much going on in this song as far as content, but he does touch on a recent beef that Drake and Pusha T had, reiterating his "shaky year," and an Ice Cube reference, comparing himself to him.
Arguably my favorite track on the record is "Ghost Town," which is a nod to the title of the next Kanye West and Kid Cudi collaboration: Kids See Ghosts. It features three sections of singing and no rapping, which sounds a little out of place for Kanye, but it works. Kanye's verse on here is actually pretty good for a rapper, I wouldn't mind it for a whole song. However, the only thing that makes the song kind of cringy is Kid Cudi's two-line verse. I am personally already not a fan of Cudi's singing, but you would think that if he only had two lines to sing, he would try hard to make it sound at least decent. It's out of pitch and honestly a little too much. The saving grace is 070 Shake, who I have not heard of before, but will check them out. They have a repeated line about hurting oneself to see if they feel and when they don't feel anything, they feel free. It's an uplifting and depressing chorus that makes it a highlight of the album.
The last track of the album, "Violent Crimes," focuses on the most touching that Kanye has ever been talking about how women need to be nurtured and not conquered and how he asks for forgiveness of his past views and perspectives of women. He says that he'll do anything to protect his daughters, even go to jail or kill, and men and rappers can only understand that if they have daughters themselves. The only problem is that that should be known even before daughters. Although it is a nice change of pace for a rapper, and specifically Kanye, to release something this important, it's still sad that one must have a daughter to realize how to treat women. He does preface this with his mental illness earlier in the album, but it is still unfortunate. I see the sentimentality though, and at least he turned a new leaf.
Overall, the album touches on issues that we never really get to see on other Kanye albums. Like Tyler, The Creators' Flower Boy, there is a new perspective on oneself that is being opened and I like this direction that he is going in, instead of releasing another album full of bangers and beats and no significance to today's problems. It is hard to remove Kanye West from his music and although he focuses on more personal issues here, it almost feels as though they are now connected and there is no surface I must scratch through. A huge issue is that the album is too short, especially when tackling issues like this. There is a lot to unpack here and I still have only touched the surface. Gathering all the factors of what I know about Kanye, his previous work, the content on this album, and his standing among other rappers, I give this album a 3.5/5. It is an enjoyable listen and honestly portrays issues he is dealing with. However, the length of the album, as well as his recent statements of slavery and politics and him trying to cover it up, make this album that much harder to swallow. I know I should separate the person and their music but when Kanye deliberately references himself in the song and his recent actions, it's hard to remove the context. Without these recent events and seeing how he may handle the situation in the future, the grade might go up to a 4, maybe 4.5, but that's a stretch.