Hi. I’m the Rap Critic. Let’s talk about Yeezus… and how stupid of an album title that is
For those that don’t know, Yeezus is the name of Kanye West’s latest album, and in it, he planned on making a darker, more minimalist sound that would complement the aggressive lyrical content he wanted to go for. Yes, on an album where he makes a facepalm-worthy fusion of his name with Jesus Christ, we’re supposed to take this album seriously. But, fine! From everything including his SNL performance where he proudly put “Not For sale” in the background, to releasing his first single, not on radio, but by “taking to the streets” and screening a minimalist video for it on the sides of 66 different buildings around the world, Kanye was letting you know that he wanted to say something with this album, something that he didn’t want to have to censor himself on the radio for, something you shouldn’t take lightly… or should you?
I mean, is Kanye really trying to make a stand against the establishment and corporate America, when at the same time, Kanye’s got a contract with Nike for shoes called “Air Yeezy’s” and actually sold a clothing line which consisted of a plain white shirt that cost $120? Think about that for a second. He released a clothing line with a shirt design that took absolutely no effort whatsoever to make, nullifying any semblance of creative thought, and marketed them for an exorbitant price solely on the basis that the shirt was being sold by the brand name of Kanye West. If that isn’t an example of being a sell out, I don’t know what is. The worst thing is the shirts actually sold out, which means that you can look forward to Kanye having an unfortunately justified song in which he will brag about how he can slap his name on anything and make it sell. And make no mistake: This is Kanye. He’s GOING to do that
But back to the music, because that’s what it’s ultimately about for me. Do the lyrics hold up for the rebellious, aggressive persona that he wants to portray, and what is the message that he wants us to feel and understand? Well, since Kanye released a music video for “Black Skinheads” and changed his whole website to be an interactive video of this song, I can only assume that this means something to him and that he wants this song to be the watershed moment that defines what his new music is going to about, the thesis statement, if you will, that represents the context of what cryptic message Kanye’s trying to send. Well, let’s listen in to “Black Skinheads”, and hear what he has to say
*starts with black KKK masks*
Okay… that’s definitely trying to say something. Maybe he’s saying that his music is supposed to incite a primal fear in white people, reflecting the hatred and anger that’s been accumulated in black culture due to centuries of systematic racism? Okay… I’m kinda concerned about how exactly you’re going to unfold this message, but… keep going
Dogs barking and rows of black people… Okay…
Hey, is the music gonna start or anything, ‘cause I don’t…
*intro starts, I start feeling the music*
Oh… oh, this is pretty good
I’m… kinda enjoying this sort of primal, percussive energetic music so far. It’s tight!
“For my theme song, BLACK “my leather black jeans on BLACK”
*stops dancing, looks up* Wh-what are you doing?
“pardon I'm getting my scream on BLACK Enter the kingdom BLACK but watch who you bring home BLACK”
I’m… I’m sorry, but the way they’re saying the word “black” sounds kinda funny to me…
*play video, but with me saying “BLACK” as seriously as I can*
It’s just kinda teetering into “trying too hard” territory. He might as well say, “THIS IS BLACK. It’s so black, even the beat says “black”.It’s blackety black and it’s black, y’all.” Okay, let’s actually look at what the man’s saying:
"For my theme song, my leather black jeans on My 'by any means' on,"
Are you saying that because the jeans are black, and Malcolm X is black? Is that supposed to symbolize your expression of black pride or something? I’m sorry, that just seems like a shallow comparison disguising itself as something more important than it really is. I mean, I don’t think it need be said, but your jeans being black is not reason enough to associate them with a Civil Rights leader’s most famous words. Maybe if the beat wasn’t so menacing and the lyrics and music video weren’t trying to obviously associate themselves with personifications of black aggression, I could look past it, but right at the beginning here, it feels like it’s trying to represent something that’s ultimately boiled down to saying: “I’m wearing black jeans. But, like, *points at screen* Malcolm X, though. And I’m sorry, but is anyone else think Kanye keeps trivializing civil rights messages with silly wordplay about clothes and sex?
“Good Morning”: “I’m like the fly Malcolm X: ‘buy any jeans necessary’”
I’m in It: “them titties free at last”
“Put my fist in her like a civil rights sign”
I just feel like he makes stupid jokes on civil rights figures and slogans a little too often for it to be acceptable
“They see a black man with a white woman at the top floor they gone come to kill King Kong”
Okay, I see where he’s going with that line, hyperbolizing the racist view that a lot of very vocal people still seem to take on interracial couples. Oh, and before you bombard the comment section with posts about whether or not you would consider Kanye’s girlfriend Kim Kardashian to be what’s traditionally white, I just want to this: when you really look at it… I don’t care
“Middle America packed in, came to see me in my black skin Number one question they asking, fuck every question you asking”
Is… is that the number one question they’re asking? Because that’s not a question. Or else, he’s saying that he’s cutting those people off from asking questions, seeing that he doesn’t do interviews anymore, but, even so, the phrase was awkwardly worded. What’s more, the prior lyrics indicate that this is a concert setting he’s talking about. So, who’s shouting questions at Kanye during his concert? Sit down, shut up, and scream “I wanna have your babies, Kanye” like a normal fan
“If I don't get ran out by Catholics, here come some conservative Baptists Claiming I'm overreacting like them black kids in Chiraq bitch”
Overreacting about what? Fans shouting question to you at concerts? Well, I don’t know why Christians would be angry about that, but, naw, I’m on your side with that one, people shouldn’t be trying to interview you in the middle of a concert. Except to the point where you compared your problems with the problems of the youth in Chiraq, a name given to Chicago by its own citizens due to the high murder rate. I mean, to say that the furious reactions that young black teenagers go through in Chicago’s South Side due to poor education systems, gang violence, and racially motivated policies is on the exact same level as your annoyed reaction to people shouting questions at you? Incidentally, I… think that’s a bit of an overreaction
“Four in the morning, and I'm zonin' They say I'm possessed, it's an omen I keep it 300, like the Romans”
Would the demon that’s possessing you happen to not be very well versed on the difference between Greeks and Romans? Because the 300 Spartan soldiers are… GREEK
Of course, there’s also the fan theory that when he said “I keep it 3oo like the Romans”, he was instead referring to the number 300 as Romans would write it, which would be CCC, which his fans go on to believe stands for “Cool Calm, and Collected”. So in essence, they believe Kanye is saying that he indeed keeps himself cool, calm, and collected. But, um…
“I'm outta control NOW But there's nowhere to go, NOW And there's no way to slow DOWN” I… don’t think “cool and calm” is what he’s going for…"
“300 bitches, where's the Trojans?”
So, this is part of the chorus for your rebellious, “stick it to the man”, “black rage in the face of adversity” music, and yet, you just HAD to, just couldn’t possibly restrain yourself from off-hand bragging about how much sex you have? You see, Kanye, THIS is why people don’t take you seriously
“Stop all that coon shit, early morning cartoon shit This is that goon shit, fuck up your whole afternoon shit”
Yes, stop assimilating to the safe, non-offensive stereotypes that white people have about black people. Instead, call yourself a goon and specifically conform to all the NEGATIVE stereotypes that white people have about black people
“Black out the room bitch, (BLACK) stop all that coon shit (BLACK) These niggas ain't doin' shit, them niggas ain't doin' shit”
You keep calling out other people by telling them that they’re not doing anything important because they’re acting like coons, but YOU have lyrics in this very song that paint you as sex crazy and refer to what you’re doing as “goon shit”, “goon” meaning thug or criminal. This plays right into the negative prejudices people have against black people. Oh, and shouting “black” a bunch of times doesn’t magically turn that into a righteous African-American pride anthem
"Come on, homie, what happened? You niggas ain't breathing you gasping These niggas ain't ready for action (Ready, ready for action)"
And based on your repetition, you weren’t ready to write a final lyric to this verse
Well, overall, I’d give this song a 3 out of 5. The thing is, I really did want to rate this song higher. The experimental, tribal, high-octane beat and impassioned yet confident delivery frames the song as powerfully rugged and enjoyably crazy, but the lyrics, while having hints of introspection and intelligence are bowled over by his inability to truly write lyrics that you can take seriously. But darker production doesn’t really fit for the way he writes. Now, I have no problem with Kanye wanting to shed his more light-hearted lyricism for a darker tone. The thing is, KANYE has a problem with Kanye wanting to shed his more light-hearted lyricism for a darker tone. It’s like he just can’t construct a meaningful song without injecting his silly Kanye-isms that pull you out of the tone of the music. I can’t help but wish that someone else were writing the words for this song, someone who could really help me throw my spirit into the darker nature of the production. But as it stands, it’s an average product that fails to live up to its possible greatness, in my eyes
I’m the Rap Critic. You don’t have to like my opinion, but I don’t have to like your song