Sobering power of fatherhood softens the blow in Kanye’s angry ‘Ye’
You can’t ignore Kanye West when he’s spewing rant-laced diatribes against people who get on his bad side (hello, Taylor Swift and Wiz Khalifa), or delivering divisive pronouncements that declare slavery as a consequence of “choice.”
The guy is musically brilliant, but Kanye’s demented rants and bloated sense of self are out of whack and, well, far from lucid.
Take “Ye,” his record-breaking eighth consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart.
It contains only seven cuts, but each sampling-heavy track is as lyrically wince-worthy as the next.
In “No Mistakes,” where the 41-year-old rapper whines about “getting dirt on my name” during a “shaky-ass year,” he attempts to get his head around his financial woes and his struggle with mental illness when he isn’t referencing hot-to-trot superstar Drake’s feud with Pusha-T, who used an incriminating photo of Drake wearing blackface to promote the release of the dishy diss track, “The Story of Adidon.”
Kanye provokes as much as he entertains with kickass hooks that are made more scintillating by the polarizing themes framing them and the guest artists who keep his sound young and inventive, like Jeremih, PartyNextDoor, Charlie Wilson, Kid Cudi, Ty Dolla Sign, Ant Clemons and exciting artist 070 Shake (who’s memorable in her two-minute epilogue for “Ghost Town”).
While saying that he’s done rapping about his twisted fantasies in “I Thought About Killing You,” Kanye shares his thoughts about depression and suicide after having endured “a bad case of too many bad days and too many bad traits.”
But, as he muses in “Yikes,” Kanye’s troubles are sometimes brought on by “extraneous” forces that are not his doing—especially if you accept his presumption that getting hooked on drugs isn’t always self-inflicted, as “proven” by the tragic consequences that befell Michael Jackson and Prince as a result of their dependence on prescription drugs.
In the same breath, Kanye takes umbrage at Def Jam cofounder Russell Simmons’ well-meaning pronouncements, saying that the “suffering, unraveling” rapper is now in need of professional “intervention.”
In an Instagram post, the brother of Run DMC’s Joseph Simmons revealed that his attempts to contact Kanye went unanswered: “I refuse to believe a black man who supports black empowerment, but now says that ‘slavery is a choice,’ is operating with a healthy state of mind,” he wrote.
As expected, this didn’t sit well with Kanye, who found it ironic for Russell to take the high ground, despite getting embroiled in sexual assault allegations: “I pray for him ’cause he got #MeToo’d/ Thinking what if that happened to me, too/ Then I’d be on E! news,” he raps in “Yikes.” Tit for tat?
In “All Mine,” he acquiesces that fame or fortune has its downside, explaining how “power breeds temptation.”
But, Kanye is most effective when he sings and raps about being a husband (to wife Kim Kardashian) and father (to his daughters, North and Chicago).
“Violent Crimes,” which also showcases 070 Shake, is a testament to the sobering power of fatherhood.
In the song, Kanye explains how the birth of his children has paved the way for his shift in perspective towards women, and why he worries about their future: “Niggas are savage/ Niggas are monsters/ Niggas are pimps/ Niggas are players/ Till niggas have daughters/ Father, forgive me/ I’m scared of the karma/ Coz now I see women as something to nurture/ Not something to conquer.”
“Wouldn’t Leave” is even sweeter and more revealing. It’s a song that plays out like a musical apology as it pays loving tribute to Kim, who stood by her hubby despite the “slavery” backlash: “I said, ‘Slavery is a choice”/ They said, ‘How, Ye?’/ Now I’m on 50 blogs getting 50 calls/ My wife callin’, screamin’, ‘We’re about to lose it all’/ Had to calm her down coz she couldn’t breathe/ Told her she could leave me now/ But she wouldn’t.”
Apparently, there’s more to the reality TV star than her glossy but shallow exterior.
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