Why Kanye West's Yeezus Is the Best Punk Rock Record in Years
Given what we know about Kanye West, a comparison between his newest (best, maybe) record and the long-dead punk rock movement seems like a tough case to make -- the dude telling God that he's stacking his millions seems like an odd choice for a continuation of Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.
Would you buy punk rock from this man?
But it's worth noting that ego and punk aesthetics have never been mutually exclusive -- anyone who's seen or read an interview with Johnny Rotten knows that, and, anyway, it's hard to stay humble when you're stuntin' on a Jumbotron. But West's unapologetic consumerism, of which he's always been a willing, if critical, participant, handicaps his credentials in this realm considerably, at least at first glance. The hypocritical dude selling you Air Yeezys is going to criticize your spending? Give me a break.
The ire directed at Ye following the leak, swift and histrionic and ultimately meaningless in light of the album's numerous successes, took issue with his ham-fisted connection of important political discourse and rap's typical money-and-hos fixations, a connection perhaps best exemplified by the unforgettable "put my fist in her like a civil rights sign" line in "I'm In It."
But it's the contradiction here that's so fascinating, and what's always been so fascinating about Kanye: "NOT FOR SALE" projected onto Louis Vuitton to announce the record, "free at last" in reference to titties, you get the idea. He manages to embody both mindsets. He's everything to everyone even if, on this record, he doesn't seem to want to be anybody's anything.
But Yeezus is his most difficult, and therefore most exciting, record to date, even more than the divisive 808s and Heartbreak. He's experimenting more, he's subverting himself. In "On Sight," the album's opening track, he drops the backbeat entirely just to prove how much, in Ye's words, he don't give a fuck. And even from a perfectionist like West, I take him at his word. He's fucking angry.