Edith at seven. Can’t remember if she’s dreaming. It comes first like a fracture in the air that only the reptile in her notices as her skin turned goose from the ankles up. Then, successively in her ears. A creak she can't place, some vague scuffle muffled by her own rolling in bed. She halts, ears pricked, as she simultaneously wills and dreads a repetition. It comes, she denies it but it comes. And all of a sudden she can’t move; and her eyes are open but they’re not and the lock is turning the lock is turning the lock - she screams terrible silence. A high pitched airy whistle that squeezes through a throat stuffed with cotton and the longer she screams the further her jaw stretches and it wont close it wont close: dislocation as Edith's flesh pulls in purple elastic, hollow marks on her cheeks. It is in the room now: sin out of time and slinking towards her bed. Cold fingers like toothpaste licking at her ears. Her bottom lip has almost reached her ankles and it begins to climb in, over her teeth like they’re the walls to a well and it sinks within her. It fills her lungs. It fills her. Edith at seven. Fugue. Not used to these flimsy limbs it snaps them as it drags her from the inside to her open moonlit window. Edith would have felt a pain so bright it would be blank. She’s not here now. She’s already climbing out the window and down the wall, into the well of other.
It is a macabre dance, this procession of kids; broken limbs in a bloody ballet and pupils as eclipsed moons. Thousands teem the streets and march slingshot to the wind it is a crying you’re home you’re home, you’re reborn and can
Drums. The sun cracks yolk pink across the horizon, the last leaking strands threatening a night that will fill like a cool glass and leave you submerged. Your last prayer is in Dionysian dance around a bonfire that must be endlessly stoked: you cannot afford to let the embers sigh out. Keep dancing.
Who knew this music could be your deliverance?
Kanye describes his “breakdown” as a “breakthrough”. His interviews allude not to a climactic, despairing, stoop but instead to a crumbling of paper reality, in which the curtains are drawn to an abyssal truth gilded by millions of whispering eyes so ready to flippantly discard him. A cataclysmic Truman exit that re-framed his own mental condition and revealed fully the extent to which those would judge the messages he has received from across a milky veil (“Might need an intervention/ For this new dimension”). Kanye finds his childish freedom here, reborn with the ghosts of himself. He finds that Cudi had made the journey too. And he talks in interviews of how much easier the hill is to climb now that there is no boulder to push.
Crucially, however, Kids See Ghosts transcends momentary illumination. It is not your fleeting “the storm ends, the clouds part, the sun shines”, but instead it is soaked in timeless maturity: the bittersweet acceptance that there are still and will always be more breakthroughs to come as the record confronts that burgeoning storm with a militant determination. Buried in bass, the drums sign a pledge to “keep moving forward”.
Turn it up and you can almost hear them marching. Incantatory and fast, Kids See Ghosts is so abruptly modern it seems to elevate “contemporary” into its own genre. If you’re looking for it: here it is, the music of now. Innovation distilled to perfect synthesis with convention. On Feel the Love, West backs aggressive ad-libs with crunching 808s, gutting and displaying Trap's carnal soul. It’s a move that is somehow so obvious that it verges on genius, experimentation so base and playful but executed by two artists that have mastered convention with such aptitude that they can flail it and never make too much of a mess. Kanye and Cudi have made hip hop sound like pop music, instilled with toils of the Inner. But it’s deeper than that, a skin-fitted zeitgeist of a record with its finger on the trigger of contemporary music, culture, sentiment… watch in 23 minute slow-mo as the bullet leaves the chamber.