Yeezus was the best album of 2013. No ifs, no buts. It was.
Yes, These New Puritans, Earl Sweatshirt, Danny Brown and King Krule all released fantastic albums, but nothing came close to Yeezus. It’s forward thinking, it’s heavy and it’s completely unapologetic. This isn’t a toned down album for the masses, or one that harks back to the past, it’s the brazen recording of a man at the peak of his powers staying true to his artistic vision and creating one of the all-time great albums.
What set Yeezus apart from most other albums in 2013 is its inventiveness and forward-thinking. Whilst Jay-Z was still calling upon Timbaland for another identical instrumental to the ones he’s been making for well over a decade now, Kanye was bringing in fresh talent to create a sonically more inventive and exciting sound. Hudson Mohawke, Young Chop and Evian Christ to name but a few had previously been ignored by mainstream rap (Jay actually actively rejected multiple Hudson Mohawke beats) but Kanye had the critical ear to not only notice their talent, but also the skill to mould them into the overarching sound of Yeezus. I mean, it wasn’t exactly rocket science to bring in the most exciting and inventive producers of the moment, but no other artist was doing it and Kanye had the ear to exploit these new sounds.
But what propels this album into the stratospheric territory of The Black Album, or Purple Rain, or Sgt. Peppers, is purely Kanye, whose character, like every great record, is etched into every minute detail of the album and is ultimately what makes it so great. The album is a complete investment in the man that is Kanye West because it displays his idiosyncrasies so vividly, and is unapologetic in so doing. He is the only artist alive who could rap about racism and discrimination within the DEA and CCA, a topic no other artist even touches, but then in the same breath talk about ‘eatin’ Asian p**sy’ by commenting ‘all I need was sweet and sour sauce’. Yes, some of the lyrics are throwaway and vulgar, but some of them are hugely relevant and critical of society.
With Kanye, and with Yeezus, you have to take the rough with the smooth. This is by no means the most consistent album of the year, but it is the most forward-thinking album by a star as great as Kanye. It will be remembered as one of the twenty first century’s greatest albums, and in 2013 no other album came close. No ifs, no buts. I believe in Yeezus.
Image Credit: Kenny Sun