It’s that time again, Yeezy season, where everyone talks about how much they hate Kanye West and how stupid he is and then inevitably buy his latest piece of brilliance. As always it’s a season that starts off in controversial, divisive style – this time on last week’s SNL, which he made clear was not a laughing matter(even though, as a comedy show, it actually is). He debuted two songs from his upcoming album, supposedly called Yeezus, an objectively ridiculous name, and held nothing back as he basically just screamed into the microphone against an all black backdrop whilst the words ‘NOT FOR SALE’ flashed epileptically in the background.
On ‘New Slave’, which Kanye debuted the night before SNL on the walls of 66 different public places in 6 different countries, he channels Suicide, Death Grips and even some Gil Scott-Heron and ‘Strange Fruit’-style Billie Holliday. It’s weird, basically. Kanye is an extraordinarily insecure man and right now it seems like race relations and consumerism are his current gripes. He proclaims over gothic beats that “We’re the new slaves/ I see blood on the leaves”. He seems to view this new slavery as being tied to consumerist culture and the kind of braggadocio ideas espoused by his fellow rappers. He starts off talking about his mom growing up in the era of segregation and then moves on to the new segregation and discrimination of poor blacks – “Don’t touch anything in the store” – and rich – “Come here, please buy more/What you want, a Bentley? Fur coat? A diamond chain?/
All you blacks want all the same things” . So, no holding back then, as usual.
It’s all pretty out-there stuff, but musically the brooding intensity of ‘New Slave’ comes off as reserved compared to the explosive ferocity of Black Skinhead. If you sense some kind of theme that’s because there is one and it is ridiculously direct. Kanye is possibly one of the most hated men in America, and he is doing himself no favours with Middle America on this track that is more screamed than rapped. It’s a balls to the wall, crazy aggressive, almost tribalistic performance as Kanye goes on the attack against his many, many haters – Middle America, Catholics, Conservative Baptists – and compares himself to the 300 Spartans, which is quite a leap to be honest. He would also like to point out that he is aware that he is a wolf. So that answers that burning question.
One track simmers and the other erupts, but both show that Kanye isn’t dealing in half-measures on his new album. In fact, he seems to be going even more all out than usual, which could have crazy results. From the sounds of things, though, his album has the potential to be as brilliant as it is controversial.
There’s a part of me that really hopes Kim Kardashian was his muse for his new stuff and is actually some crazy, militant race rights activist using Kanye to espouse her ‘black skinhead’ views. Her laying into Bruce on Keeping up with the Kardhasians for being a ‘cracker’ or something would absolutely make my day. Please be crazy Kim. Please do something insane/slightly interesting so I can justify to myself your constant television coverage.