By now the gospel according to Yeezus has spread to every corner of popular culture, its value measured as one of the most ambitious projects rap has ever encountered. But the evolution is not in the content, that much is clear. It’s the same old Kanye massaging his ego in ways that fall right in line with other like-minded projects of the avant-garde variety. The only difference being the breakneck tension he laces each narrative with – which is nothing new, especially when a lyricist of his caliber approaches the apex of his career. There’s an underlining sense of irony to it all, but not nearly enough to make it a groundbreaking enterprise. Not by a long shot. And certainly not enough to live up to the hype of the album, which Kanye crafted in eye-rolling secrecy as if it were the Manhattan Project.

The only step forward – or to the left rather – that Kanye makes here is on the production tip, which is spearheaded by Daft Punk among others. The minimally crafted, industrial playground gives ‘Ye enough freedom to loosen the chains his uber-celebrity status has forged. He’s looking to firmly plant his feet back on solid ground. Sink his teeth into something real as to elicit a visceral reaction from his fans. It’s the same level of emotion that had him tirelessly slangin’ beat tapes as a young producer at Columbia College. But at ten songs that sort of venture is fleeting. He’ll need to release another album, perhaps a sequel to Yeezus that’ll counter what he’s doing here because as of right now it’s just another highly processed gumball churned out by the ever ubiquitous hype machine.

On Sight

Kanye opens the door to his sixth studio album with his fists clenched and dick swinging. Same old story. The only thing different is the beat, making this more a sonic evolution than a lyrical one. Give him credit though for name dropping Johnnie Cochran. His role as a rap punchline forever lives on: [LISTEN]

"On Sight" RIFF

Black Skinhead

Kanye’s peeved. Maybe angry or even confused, so what better way to express it than crying mercilessly over an abominable war drum, declaring himself a black skinhead. It’s a little endearing, like an adolescent parading around their new identity, but it’s still incredibly transparent even for Kanye: [LISTEN]

"Black Skinhead" RIFF

I Am a God

After brushing the dust off his jacket ‘Ye declares himself the king of kings, the alpha and the omega – God. No big deal. He’s parodying the bourgeoisie culture. But he’s way too invested in it for it to resonate. He’s a wannabe art house goon who thinks irony alone can fuel a movement: [LISTEN]

"I Am a God" RIFF

New Slaves

Do you remember where you were when you saw this video? Were you in the streets of Berlin or in Chicago? How about Paris or London. Or was it where a majority of the world saw it. At home glued in front of a computer. “New Slaves” is right. Kanye knocks it out the park in one swing: [LISTEN]

"New Slaves" RIFF

Hold My Liquor

Here it is, the official anthem for every drunk baboon trying to drive home after a night of partying. The shame is that it’ll be easy to overlook a silly confessional of sorts via his girl’s aunt who apparently is a walking twig. Chief Keef is around, but apparently with one foot out the door: [LISTEN]

"Hold My Liquor" RIFF

I’m in It

Kanye’s expressing his repentant soul only as he knows how, in a shameless outpouring of emotional diarrhea. No more chasing random ass and losing focus. He’s in for a big surprise though because that same lifestyle he’s admonishing is the same life that fueled his insatiable hunger: [LISTEN]

"I'm in It" RIFF

Blood on the Leaves

Leave it to Kanye to take a song as revolutionary as “Strange Fruit” covered by one of soul music’s most gifted singers Nina Simone, and butcher it into a bedpan for one of his failed conquests. Controversial and stimulating? About as much as his crumby fashion line: [LISTEN]

"Blood on the Leaves" RIFF

Guilt Trip

Kanye’s purging here, exorcising those pesky demons that keep whispering in his ear. But did he not know that comes with the territory? If he’s trying to reclaim some lost innocence good luck. He’s got too much plastic running through his veins to turn back now: [LISTEN]

"Guilt Trip" RIFF

Send it Up

There’s plenty of Chicago connections on this album. Lyrically it’s a bit inept, steeped heavily in midnight creepings of the grimiest variety, but what it does offer up is a deep dish slice of Chicago’s burgeoning, often controversial rap scene – a vision nurtured by Kanye: [LISTEN]

"Send it Up" RIFF

Bound 2

Kanye’s lone throwback song is an homage to his more innocent days, when he was a hungry young producer trying to break into the big time. He’s looking to relive that same passion, or perhaps sow the seeds for another project – one that’ll counter the grit of this one and add punctuation: [LISTEN]

"Bound 2" RIFF