On his knees, hands clasped, the muttering of a king to a God, "what do I have to do to become you? Father in heaven, lord above... speak through me, so that I may become you." Kanye whispers a hasty "Amen" and looks up to the empty sky above him. He stands, not bothering to brush the dust off his knees through his ripped jeans. He pulls down his crystal-studded mask, breathes it in, and steps out. The sun beams down on him, a scorching light, shining hot and blinding. The harsh, brutal sounds — metal on metal, and sharp stings of industrial noise pollutes the air. A chanting, a roar, a venomous, terrifying cry for war echoes throughout the barren wasteland Kanye finds himself in. Then Kanye — King Kanye — steps up and grabs the microphone, addressing his people. Although this isn't a wasteland. The sun is a spotlight, the sounds are his beats and the roar are his fans. This isn't a wasteland. It's a stage. And Kanye breathes it in.

On his knees, hands clasped, the muttering of a king to a God, "what do I have to do to become you? Father in heaven, lord above... speak through me, so that I may become you." Kanye whispers a hasty "Amen" and looks up to the empty sky above him. He stands, not bothering to brush the dust off his knees through his ripped jeans. He pulls down his crystal-studded mask, breathes it in, and steps out. The sun beams down on him, a scorching light, shining hot and blinding. The harsh, brutal sounds — metal on metal, and sharp stings of industrial noise pollutes the air. A chanting, a roar, a venomous, terrifying cry for war echoes throughout the barren wasteland Kanye finds himself in. Then Kanye — King Kanye — steps up and grabs the microphone, addressing his people. Although this isn't a wasteland. The sun is a spotlight, the sounds are his beats and the roar are his fans. This isn't a wasteland. It's a stage. And Kanye breathes it in.

Ezekiel 34:23 "And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David,
​and he shall feed them:he shall feed them and be their shepherd."

1 Chronicles 14:17 "And the fame of David went out into all lands,
and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations."

The music equivalent to a mid-life crisis. Surrounded by his experiments in fashion and fine art, the album came at yet another tumultuous time in Kanye’s career. Launched alongside the iconic SNL performances of “Black Skinhead” and “New Slaves” this seemed like another reinvention of Kanye, the culmination of a celebrity ego manifested as music. An often-disgusting, industrial explosion of sound layered with passionate outbursts from Ye himself, his usual scattering of samples, and guest vocals. It is a loud, intrusive, energetic album filled with audacious, antagonistic lyrics and a vigorous, insistent structure. But it's also kind of beautiful, in it's alienating, isolating entirety.

 

I can only imagine that when it was first released off the tail of MBDTF and WATCH THE THRONE the anger and confusion this must have caused fans, but Kanye's compulsive and belligerent anger draws you in, intrigues and seduces you with its strangeness, so that by the time you get to the almost warm, soulful ballad that is "Bound 2", it feels like you've earned it. Kanye was quoted saying about YEEZUS, "the album don’t even got no music. I just let y'all have a little music on there on “Bound” but that was it," and it is hard to disagree. This towering fury and rage Kanye has built over the course of the album falls away and we are left with something sweeter and much less manic; his violent, furious tantrum of sounds subsides to lust and desire and love.

 

Within this radical reinvention of style, Kanye delivers both an aggressive series of anthems and a heartbreaking tale of a man finally embracing his true self, despite the years spent being told he should be otherwise. YEEZUS is both unmistakably a "Kanye West" record, and also unlike anything you've ever heard before. All at once, it is a manifesto to the power of art, the validation of ego, an ode to rap culture and a very loud, obnoxious cry for help. In other words, it's disgustingly beautiful. The way he opens the album with the track “On Sight”, spouting the lyrics:

"Yeezy season approachin'

Fuck whatever y'all been hearin'

Fuck what, fuck whatever y'all been wearin'

A monster about to come alive again..."

 

By this point, Kanye was arguably already as big as Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley (and rife with a career just as publicly problematic as both) but with YEEZUS Kanye became even bigger than the industry that he claimed was holding him back and keeping him down. This is Kanye looking back at his career and his art and recognising there was a reason he is at the top. This is post-2009-VMA Kanye exercising the intense heat of a personal martyrdom: the pain, suffering and agony that made YEEZUS possible is present in every lyric and every sound. As a black man at the top of the music industry, he saw the inherent racism of other figureheads trying to prevent him from branching out or becoming any more influential than he already was. But that didn't stop him. But his potential wasn't tapped. Kanye broke free. Trial by fire. Rebirth and redemption. The new era of Ye was upon us.

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