Yeezus is at its best a quantum leap forward in the evolution of hip hop, and at its worst an ego-tripping rap cliche on acid. While making a focused effort to change the sonic landscape of the genre forever with some truly innovative beats, lyrically Kanye reprises his familiar role as a walking contradiction at times taking to his iced out soap box to aim his sights at upper-crust racism in “post-racial” America (“Black Skinhead”, “New Slaves”) and switching right back to his trademarked brand of doldrums-inducing braggadocio (“I Am A God”) and “big-dick” rap (“I’m In It”). Unfortunately the worst offender on the album (“Blood On The Leaves”) is a missed opportunity to put his lazer-focused socially conscious stamp on an iconic song when he squanders a sample of Nina Simone’s rendition of “Strange Fruit” – a heart-renching ballad about lynching in the segregated South – slathering on raps about a conniving woman getting pregnant in order to hook a man for child support and alimony. Clearly the evolution is far from complete. While Yeezus features some of the most cutting-edge, ear-splitting beats to hit the scene in a long while, the standout being a pitch-perfect sample of Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People”, it falls well short of realizing its full potential as a true hip hop revelation. It seems Kanye is still just a man. For now.
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