Roc-A-Fella / Def Jam
Essentially the extended club sequence missing from Tron: Legacy, Yeezus combines the window-rattling throb of that film with the brazen, breathless, and ultimately unapologetic approach of pop music’s touchiest paladin. The results are, as you might expect, gripping and cinematic. At forty minutes the album also retains a focus absent from Kanye’s last meandering effort, 2010’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. That fairy tale was longer by half an hour, but let’s be frank—it felt like days.
As with many Kanye West projects, the degree of reality within Yeezus is unclear. Is this authentic upper class braggadocio we’re witnessing in “I Am A God” or the deftest of parodies? The line of demarcation is barely visible through the electro-dissonance West has sublet from producers Daft Punk. The rapper’s jaunty / bratty attitude doesn’t help, but when the dust settles ultimately I find myself not caring. When you create music as present and engaging as “Black Skinhead” or “On Sight” I afford you the right to have an asthma attack over tardy croissants (a picture Kanye paints in “God” that joke or not will now surely follow him to the grave).
Even when Yeezus slips into autopilot for a few tracks it’s startlingly good. “I’m In It” and “Hold My Liquor” both hit far harder than your average late night bangers about getting laid and having addiction issues (respectively). The latter is particularly affecting, moving from a jarring structure of West’s chanting between air horn blasts to a back end laden with slippery almost reversed-sounding guitar work. I assume this is one of Bon Iver founder Justin Vernon’s contributions, but I’m not ruling out a ghost appearance from Kanye’s purple pop predecessor (and equal fussbudget) Prince.
Yeezus eventually lowers the stakes on its final track, “Bound 2,” in which Kanye once again contemplates his lousy romantic skills, this time over a reboot of the 1971 Massey / Dukes soul classic “Bound.” The song strolls along with a breeze and comfort, exhaling a sigh of relief for an otherwise tense album. The change is as pleasant and touching as it is unexpectedly cathartic and provides no better comedown for what history will probably peg as one of Kanye’s top three ventures. Is it too soon to ask when his next one is coming out?
FINAL SCORE: Four Tron: Legacy light cycles (out of four).
Perhaps you read my Top Ten Albumz Of Twenty-Ten post for Crawdaddy.com (or, perhaps, you loathe end-of-the-year list-based nostalgia, and you didn’t). I was looking over this piece last night and, apropos of nothing, suddenly began wondering to which U.S. president each selection most closely corresponds. After an hour of furious pencil scribbling and equally frenzied naugahyde chewing, I had the answers below.
1. Kvelertak – Kvelertak
Teddy Roosevelt. Blustery, forceful, hearty. Doesn’t give up until its final breath.
2. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty
Bill Clinton. Charismatic and focused with a layer of devious sexuality bubbling just below the surface.
3. OFF! – First Four Eps
Harry Truman. Short, cranky, but not without an indelible charm.
4. Bloodlights – Simple Pleasures
Dwight Eisenhower. Not breaking any new ground, but strangely comforting in its self-assured rule.
5. Devo – Something For Everybody
Calvin Coolidge. Keeping cool and using aloof as a weapon.
6. Das Racist – Shut Up, Dude
John F. Kennedy. Coasting on wit and intelligence just as much as image.
7. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Richard Nixon. Unexpected accomplishment overshadowed by comically awful persona.
8. GBH – Perfume & Piss
Andrew Jackson. Charging in, causing a ruckus, refusing to apologize for boorish behavior.
9. The Sword – Warp Riders
Jimmy Carter. Laid back, on message, maybe a little too soft at times.
10. Thee Oh Sees – Warm Slime
Barack Obama. Thin, somewhat tropical, will probably make you smile despite fifteen minutes of saying nothing.
I don’t know if this has been discussed at length anywhere else on the InterWEBZ (man, I’m really starting to hate that term), but has anyone else noticed the non-animated cans of Dr Pepper that have been appearing in characters’ hands during the last couple episodes of “South Park?” They’re kind of hard to miss. It was Cartman, I believe, who was nursing a DP at some point during last week’s hilarious “Fishsticks” outing; in this week’s episode, one of the competing Pinewood Derby fathers was clearing holding a can during the big race. I tried to find a screen capture online, but when I typed “Dr Pepper South Park” into Google Image Search, this is all that came up:
Anyway, isn’t this shameless in-show product placement (a hot trend now with advertisers desperately fighting the Tivo and DVR uprising) the kind of thing “South Park” would usually mock into complete embarrassment? I have noticed recently there are more commercials during your average episode of “South Park” than there used to be. Is Matt & Trey’s greatest creation slipping in the ratings? Are talking Towlie plushies not bringing in their projected revenue? Have the suits beaten the guys who made Orgazmo! into submission? I guess after ten plus years, they have to concede to one or two things their evil corporate overlords come at them about.
Still, you’d think they’d at least make some kind of reference to the silliness of blatantly Photoshopped soda cans. This is the show that just graphically beheaded Carlos Mencia and animated a music video in which Kanye West has sexual intercourse with a giant sea creature. Maybe they thought that stuff would distract everyone from Cartman’s shiny maroon can full of fat, fat greenbacks. Whatever. “South Park” is gonna be appointment TV until it goes off the air. As long as they don’t change the voices or totally run out of steam, I’ll still watch the shiggles out of it.
NOSTALGIA WARNING: Man, I remember when “South Park” first came on. I was a freshman in college. I specifically remember talking about the premiere episode with a girl I liked the day after it aired. That conversation was quite possibly the most 1997 conversation I ever had in my life. Topics included “South Park,” the Star Wars re-releases, Blur, and feeling completely shiftless during the go-go Clinton ’90s. Talk about a scene from the coming-of-age teen comedy I’m going to write when I’m 45 and drowning in the candy-coated memories of my youth. Blecch.