“Soon as they like you, make ‘em unlike you,” raps Kanye West on his sixth solo album. West released this album with no single, no corporate sponsorship, no alluring guest spots from genre heavy-hitters. It’s a grating, 40-minute bombshell of an album. It’s also a throbbing middle finger. Here are some more guides to guaranteed alienation: title your album “Yeezus.” During interviews, compare yourself not only to Jesus, but to Bob Dylan, Steve Jobs and Michelangelo. Preview your album with a song entitled “I am a god.” Have a child with Kim Kardashian.

He spent many mysterious months holed up in a homemade studio in Paris, inviting an eclectic mix of musicians, producers, rappers and designers in and out of his apartment. He approached Rick Rubin five weeks before the album release date with a mountainous three-hour compilation pulled from those studio sessions, then set about scaling it to forty airtight minutes in only fifteen days.

An artist with half his brain employed by an unhinged ego needs the other half to work twice as hard to back it up. Therein lies Kanye’s redemption. The result is a manic tantrum, a nightmare from a narcissistic perfectionist who’s somehow unsure of himself. It could also just be a highly-produced panic attack from someone about to become a dad. Daft Punk-produced opener “On Sight” is urgent and aggressive, setting the tone for everything that follows. This is Kanye at his loudest, and also his most scaled-back. He still employs old soul samples, but to a hostile and abbreviated effect. At times, songs peak at a joyous dance beat, only to be sucked back into a fit of rage. The whole thing is a musical strike to the gut, ending as abruptly as it started. There is nothing comfortable about this album. Still, like any Kanye West album, it’s altogether a marvel. There is a level of creative production here you just can’t find anywhere else.


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Paul Kitti
Paul Kitti
Paul is another awesome member of the iSPY team.