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Kanye West the pop star is done-zo

Album review: Kanye West's 'Yeezus'

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Kanye West – Yeezus

Roc-A-Fella Records

★★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

In the promotional rollout for new album Yeezus, Kanye West gloated that he gave “no fucks at all” about listenership approval. This zero-fucks policy meant that he would not be treating us to the obligatory videos and neutered radio records we’ve come to expect from even our better pop stars. What was the use? With 2010’s modest-selling My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, ’Ye racked up more overhead than his label was probably comfortable with. He didn’t like stardom anyway; why play that codified game of prostitution if he wasn’t going to profit meaningfully?

MBDTF was aspirational and luxuriant – in other words, it was proper pop music – but Yeezus is loud, rude and flatly non-commercial. This shit would scare away pirate radio.

“I still ain’t learn no manners,” laments West on the distended “Hold My Liquor.” No kidding? Dog-whistle misogyny and fetishism are rampant on Yeezus – suffice it to say that West has a procreative use for sweet and sour sauce. Even the comparatively tasteful tracks are mortifying in their dirty laundry-airing candor. “On Sight,” for instance, lets us know that one of Kanye’s sexual kinks is indentured servitude.

On the production tip, Yeezus can be sloppy, but it bangs harder than three My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy-s. West and exec producer Rick Rubin (doing his best work since Johnny Cash’s American IV: The Man Around) treat us to skonking, queer rap-like horns, ghoulish reggae samples and bass so apocalyptically loud it’ll destroy your subwoofers. Kanye West the pop star is done-zo.

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