Kanye West’s ‘Yeezus’: Review Revue

Carl Williott | June 18, 2013 9:49 am

With Yeezus, the world’s most polarizing pop star has gone and dropped a polarizing anti-pop record. Kanye West‘s bilious new offering is the evil twin of 808s & Heartbreaks, trading in mopey mecha-tears for seething rage and jagged confrontation. It’s a shocking set of sounds coming from a mainstream pop star, made even more shocking considering that after My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch The Throne, nobody thought Yeezy had it in him to do a direct, 10-track, no-bullshit, focused attack like this.

We raved about the album in our review, scoring it a 4.5/5 and saying that it serves the important function of bringing niche sounds into the mainstream, and that “like sex, Yeezus is exciting, primal, exhausting, disgusting and, well, pretty mind-blowing.” Going through the reviews across the Web, it’s clear the critics are in love with Yeezus. But the comments and user ratings seem to suggest the LP left many fans scratching their heads. Head below to see our roundup of reviews.

:: Rolling Stone also rated it a 4.5/5, saying Yeezus “is the darkest, most extreme music Kanye has ever cooked up, an extravagantly abrasive album full of grinding electro, pummeling minimalist hip-hop, drone-y wooz and industrial gear-grind. Every mad genius has to make a record like this at least once in his career.” And in a stroke of genius or cheekiness or both, the reviewer closed it out saying, “The dick sure has some balls.”

:: Pitchfork gave the album its vaunted Best New Music title, noting that “In Kanye’s hands, being a god sounds stressful as hell[…] Many of the album’s most powerful moments have him broken down, insecure and bloody, railing against an ineptitude with the opposite sex[…] Cohesion and bold intent are at a premium on Yeezus, perhaps more than any other Kanye album. Each fluorescent strike of noise, incongruous tempo flip and warped vocal is bolted into its right place across the record’s fast 40 minutes.”

:: SPIN gave it 8/10, saying “this is decidedly not an album of radio-, jeep-, or iPod-intended rap. This is coliseum-directed, decks-oriented, one-man-against-Skrillex rap,” but still thinks Ye has more in store for us: “one can’t help feeling that parenthood will compel his muse to even more Olympian levels of bombast and grandiosity.”

:: Billboard gave it an 88/100, pointing out that “Those looking for vintage soul sounds or even full-on raps from start to finish will be thrown several curves here. It’s an album with numerous emotional layers as well. There are a few lighthearted moments, and cuts about love along with lust. But mostly, West is just plain mad — angry at naysayers,  ‘The Man’ censoring his art, and even at his own celeb status.”

:: Vulture called it “the least sexy album of 2013” and argued “only West could make such a wild and abrasive mix sound like pop. He’s the most inventive record-maker going, and on Yeezus he reaches a new plateau.”

:: HipHopDX handed out a 4.5/5, arguing that West found a delicate balance here. “This one’s an exercise in minimalism—right down to the minute. That’s fortunate. Anger overkill rarely equals replay value. Precisely when the rage is about to spill into repellent, quintessential Kanye returns. The album’s second half is sonically similar to most anything found on Graduation through My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”

:: The A.V. Club graded it an A-, calling it a “pipe bomb” of an album and  positing “Yeezus will be remembered as a lot of things—as the Kanye West album with all the screaming; as the apex of rap’s unlikely fascination with Marilyn Manson; as the biggest record of 2013 with no singles—but perhaps most significantly, it’s West’s first willfully imperfect album, the one where he let the stitches show.”

:: Entertainment Weekly also doled out an A-, lauding how “the dense breathless sound sets the tone for an album that reaches far outside of standard sample-based hip-hop, unrepentantly stealing and mutating key elements of acid house, clanging industrial, and hard rock; house-of-horrors screams, synths, and squelches leap from the shadows.”

:: Stereogum praised the “dark and violent” album, concluding that it’s “complicated and forceful and fascinating and all-consuming.”

What did you think of Yeezus? Let us know below, or by hitting us up on Facebook and Twitter.