ye was released June 1st as Kanye West’s eighth solo album and second in his projected involvement in five albums over five weeks. As much as Kanye professes the five to be independent projects ye appears as the intriguing second act from the Wisconsin sessions. The album is raw and confused as Kanye struggles to effect an unholy union from his messy contradictions.
The first thing to notice is that the album is only 23 minutes. Although the length is at variance to longform last effort The Life Of Pablo it continues the highly personal mood: Kanye admits to suicidal thoughts within the first minute of opener I Thought About Killing You. He adds “The most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest”, the cover announces “I hate being bipolar its awesome”, while on Yikes Kanye claims his bipolar as a superpower. ye is marked by internal conflict symbolised by his bipolar disorder, but the juxtapositions don’t build through contrast instead they muddle and refute each other leaving an absence of any final statement.
ye arrives after a spree of controversies including comments that slavery was a choice, support for Trump, and accusations by former friend Rhymefest that he gained undeserved good publicity for the work of charity Donda’s House with which he has had no recent contact. Kanye doesn’t justify any actions instead on Wouldn’t Leave remarking “imagine if they caught me on a wild day”, rather than explain himself he conceitedly shrugs his shoulders as if we were lucky he wasn’t feeling truly offensive. Who knows if he’ll ever elaborate further on the slavery comments as he “ain’t finna talk about it, ‘nother four centuries”.
On album highlight Ghost Town he expresses through Kid Cudi that he’s “been tryin’ to make you love me / But everything I try just takes you further from me”. Kanye laments the growing distance his appreciation of Trump has caused with lifelong fans; he continues, “I put my hand on the stove / To see if I still bleed” confessing a childlike belief in his own immutability, his ability to make mistakes and a certain innocence in seeking good intentions in the emotive actions of Candace Owens and Trump. Kanye advocates free thought and self-determination without taking on any responsibility for his own actions, with ye he refuses an opportunity to explain himself in his own space instead shirking responsibility again and again blaming mental illness, opioid addiction, or just ignoring the issues.
One of the greatest imbalances in the album is the disparity between Kanye’s support for Russell Simmons despite accusations of sexual assault from 7 women and his new respect for women after having a daughter. Kanye’s support for Simmons originates is a response to Simmons support for Kanye after his VMA incident with Taylor Swift and again this year for Kanye’s MAGA hat, “Russell Simmons wanna pray for me too / I’ma pray for him ‘cause he got #MeToo’d”. Kanye offers a goofy punchline beside his childish loyalty perpetuating the toxic attitudes towards women which he claims to have abandoned: “Now I see women as something to nurture / Not something to conquer” on Violent Crimes. With this closer Kanye hopes his daughter doesn’t become too attractive and delivers strange forecasts of her future sexualisation and puberty “She got the scars they serve as reminders / Blood still on her pyjamas”. Whilst Kanye clearly loves the women in his life this song is an awkward ending especially from the artist of Hey Mama or Family Business; Kanye used to celebrate his family with a beaming smile not fear and apprehension for the future.
With that and a voicemail from Nicki Minaj the album anticlimactically ends. For an album that pitched itself as self-revelatory it didn’t reveal much, some of the music is great but on a 7 track album the dud tracks really hurt. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy saved Kanye’s reputation after his outburst at the VMA’s, ye doesn’t clean up the mess he’s made this year but with a collaborative album with Kid Cudi out June 8th he has another chance.