But these enjoyable moments are too few and far between
Much of the discourse surrounding Kanye West and his new album, ye, has centred around his mental health issues. Crucially, an open discussion of mental health problems to remove any stigma, and allow people facing similar challenges to identify with an idol like West, is never to be shunned. This discussion of his current state, the prevailing theme of the 7-track ye, should be encouraged. This marks West at his most personal, which is a refreshing change from a grandiose past, but the album’s short length and sparse production leaves no hiding place for the disappointing rapping and disjointed instrumentation. Personally, the greatest strength of West’s last album, The Life of Pablo, was its frenetic pace and frenzied variation. I noted for Exeposé that listening to it seemed like watching a live performance art piece that changed with each listen. Ye is similarly varied but does not have the length, calibre of production or stylistic variation that made The Life of Pablo such an enjoyable listen. The production, when it works, makes for a rich background for West to muse over. Highlights include Francis and the Lights providing haunting backing vocals on ‘I Thought About Killing You’, and additional composition from Reverend A. Donaldson on ‘Wouldn’t Leave’. This track is the album’s best, with rich samples and a celebratory narrative. But these enjoyable moments are too few and far between. ‘Yikes’ and ‘All Mine’ are, at their most fundamental, not an enjoyable listen. The lyrics are crass and alarmingly basic, and reminiscent of the worst moments of The Life of Pablo. Admittedly, to compare West’s new work to the rich, sample-heavy, radio-friendly rap at the peak of his powers is now obsolete- the two are now so far removed from each other. And even with a well-intended message, ye is simply misjudged in execution and enjoyable moments are swamped by others much worse.