Yeezus is the sixth album by American rapper Kanye West, released on June 18, 2013.
West gathered a slew of collaborators for production on the album including Daft Punk, Skrillex, Kid Cudi, Chief Keef, OFWGKTA, Travis Scott and RZA, and was influenced by minimalist design and architecture when making the album, reportedly visiting a furniture exhibit at the Louvre multiple times for inspiration. His views on the album were especially perfectionist, and he ended up enlisting the help of Rick Rubin as an executive producer just over two weeks before its due date to strip down its soundscapes.
The end result was a unique musical experience making for some of the most abrasive and eclectic content in a Kanye album yet, incorporating genres such as industrial, dancehall, acid house, electronica, punk, and Chicago drill.
Immediate reception towards the album saw a sharp case of Critical Dissonance; while critics adored its direction, the public was heavily divided over it. However, time has shifted leagues more people onto the positive side, and it's now considered one of the best works of the 2010s. It is currently ranked at #269 on the most updated version of Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time.
- "On Sight" (2:36)
- "Black Skinhead" (3:08)
- "I Am a God" (3:51)
- "New Slaves" (4:16)
- "Hold My Liquor" (5:26)
- "I'm In It" (3:54)
- "Blood on the Leaves" (6:00)
- "Guilt Trip" (4:03)
- "Send It Up" (2:58)
- "Bound 2" (3:49)
Blood on the tropes:
- Album Title Drop: The image quote, taken from "I Am a God".
- Audience Participation Song: The audience always shouts the "hurry up with my damn croissants!" line from "I Am a God".
- Bigger Than Jesus: Very cautiously averted on "I Am A God":"I know he da most high, but I am a close high."
- Blasphemous Boast: "I Am a God". Reasoned for in a sense if you look at Psalms 82:6:"I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High."
- However, the song's title formatting of "I Am a God (feat. God)" does definitely take some Refuge in Audacity.
- Call-Back: A lot of them to MBDTF.
- Bon Iver returns on "Hold My Liquor" and "I'm in It", previously having sung on "Monster" and "Lost in the World".
- Speaking of "Monster", there's the "On Sight" line of "A monster about to come alive again".
- The autotuned warbling of Kanye's voice at the end of "Blood on the Leaves" harkens back to the "unintelligible singing buried under a vocoder" ending of "Runaway".
- Careful with That Axe:
- Darker and Edgier: More sonically abrasive and more lyrically heavy than any of his other albums.
- Determinator: Two days before Yeezus was due in the record label's hands, Kanye hadn't written lyrics for five songs half of the album's worth. As he was going to be spending those two days in Milan, he managed to write and record all five vocals within two hours before leaving to catch his plane.
- Drunken Song: "Hold My Liquor".
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After 9 loud and abrasive tracks, the album closes with "Bound 2", which is a considerably more light-hearted love song more similar to the production from Kanye's older albums.
- Epic Rocking: "Hold My Liquor" (5:26) and "Blood on the Leaves" (6:00).
- Foreshadowing: "New Slaves" contains the line "I know that we the new slaves, I see the blood on the leaves", which happens to be the title of track 7.
- A God Am I: One of the major themes of this album, especially with "I Am a God." It's not actually intended to be blasphemous, as Kanye's a Christian it's based on a Bible verse (Psalms 82:6, to specify) but the shock and controversy of it was certainly not an accident.
- Incoming Ham: The very first line of the album, alongside "On Sight"'s famously harsh intro, properly sets the tone.
Fuck wha-fuck whatever y'all been wearing, a monster's bout to come alive again"
- The Immodest Orgasm: "I'm in It" samples several sounds of female moaning (presumably from pornos) for its beat. Then there's Kanye's re-enactment of his partner's orgasm, already described above under the Careful with That Axe trope. Looks like Yeezy is really good at sex...
- Intercourse with You: "I'm in It" is far more explicit than most songs about this trope, almost falling into squick territory at times.
- Bound 2 has shades of this, but it's more romantic about this.
- Lesser Star: Rick Rubin's finishing production job on Yeezus reduced many of the big-name contributors to this status. Rubin, already known for his reductive production philosophy, stripped many of the songs down to base arrangements, leaving entire instruments and sections of songs on the cutting room floor. It's not possible to tell that Daft Punk contributed to four songs unless the liner notes are read.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The collaborators that Kanye enlisted for work on this album. According to Wikipedia, there were 23 people (some of them listed above).
- Loudness War: Yeezus's dynamic range squishes its average down to 4dB of range. Unlike MBDTF, Yeezus features heavy amounts of clearly audible distortion, but this was probably on purpose, considering the material on it.
- Messianic Archetype: "I Am a God", of course.
- Metal Scream: Several times, most notably "I Am a God" and "Black Skinhead." Live performances take this to another level.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: Probably the most minimalist album cover of all time: there is no album cover. Just a sticker (that may or may not have "YEEZUS" written on it) and that's it; according to West, the idea behind the packaging was to act as an open-casket funeral for the Compact Disc, which by that point had fallen far in mainstream prominence compared to digital downloads and streaming. Fitting this, releases of the album on the latter two formats simply use a scan of the CD packaging as their artwork.
- Mood Whiplash: After the dark, thematically heavy industrial tracks that compose most of the album, comes Bound 2 which is... a heartfelt Silly Love Song dedicated to his then-wife Kim Kardashian and a Genre Throwback to his earlier chipmunk soul material.
- New Sound Album: Yeezus is Kanye's most experimental release yet, with abrasive production.
- Other Common Music Video Concepts: "New Slaves" is a Travelogue Montage mixed with a Monochrome Backdrop, showcasing footage of West performing the song against a black background, projected onto various buildings across the US.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: Yeezus takes a heavy dive into Industrial Metal, considerably removed from the Alternative Hip Hop of Kanye's prior material and the Gospel Music-inspired direction of his later work.
- Sampling: The album includes samples from Hungarian progressive rock band Omega, the Holy Name of Mary Choral Family, Nina Simone, and Beenie Man, amongst several others.
- Self-Parody: By the time of Yeezus, Kanye seems to have realized how comically overblown his ego is. While a number of the songs are completely serious (such as "New Slaves" and "Black Skinhead"), some of the other songs on the album take common rap boasts and make them as over-the-top as possible, such as the line above under Corpsing and this entry, also from "On Sight":Real nigga back in the house again
Black Timbs all on your couch again
Black dick all in your spouse again
And I know she like chocolate men
She got more niggas off than Cochran
- Another standout is I am a God, wherein Kanye proclaims his divinity, which includes lyrics like the following:I am a god
So hurry up with my damn massage
In a French-ass restaurant
Hurry up with my damn croissants
I am a god
I am a god
I am a god
- Another standout is I am a God, wherein Kanye proclaims his divinity, which includes lyrics like the following:
- Sensory Abuse: The album's abrasive nature can be this to some; special note goes to the start of the album.
- Silly Love Song: Bound 2, the closing song of the album, is this. It's a soulful, warm track dedicated to Kanye's wife at the time, Kim Kardashian.
- Textless Album Cover: The album has no cover and the actual sticker put on the album case has no text on it (except on some occasions, in which "YEEZUS" will be written on it in marker). The only indication as to what the album's called is the writing on the CD label itself.