“It’s been a shaky ass year” for Mr. West, both personally, professionally, and publicly. The rapper has been in and out of the public eye the past few years, spending time in the hospital, making his new record Ye in secluded Wyoming, and making bold statements on Twitter.
Yeezus has been busy on Twitter this year writing a book, as he called it, and seemingly showing public support for Trump when he tweeted an autographed “Make America Great Again” hat. Fans rightfully began to question their support of Kanye, even after years of crafting his narrative as an erratic and arrogant music artist. But the worst was yet to come. Shortly after his support to Trump, he felt compelled to go on TMZ and share with the world his thoughts on slavery; “When you hear about slavery for 400 years – 400 years, that sounds like a choice.”
African American fans and fellow musicians unfollowed him in waves. Many wondered if this was the moment he had finally taken it too far. But in typical Kanye fashion, he would have the last word on his latest album Ye, a 23-minute open book on his mental, physical, and emotional state. For the first time Kanye seems to be owning his struggles in a real human way, instead of masked by arrogance and bravado as we’ve seen in the past.
Ye opens with a track called “I Thought About Killing You,” a raw four minute open book on Kanye’s feelings he’s gathered through his struggle with bi-polar disorder and suicide. The song is hard to listen to, especially if you can’t relate to those kinds of feelings at all. But once you get past the harsh nature of the song’s subject, you hear West open up like never before.
“The most beautiful thoughts are always besides the darkest,
Today I seriously thought about killing you,
I contemplated, premeditated murder,
And I think about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you.”
On “Yikes” he talks about how his behavior scares even himself, a moment of self-reflection. He questions what would happen to him if he got called out in the #MeToo movement and details his time spent in the hospital after he cancelled his tour in 2016.
“Sometimes I scare myself, myself,
They take me on meds, off meds, as yourself,
Shit could get menacin’, frightenin’, find help”
In the last few verses of the song, Kanye comes to the realization that his bipolar disorder is not a hindrance to his talent, but a superpower. We’re used to him thinking of himself as a God, but not a God willing to play off and admit his weaknesses as a strength. “I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero!”
“No Mistakes” transitions the album to a lighter level with a smooth beat and a catchy chorus sung by a few men with tenor voices singing, “Make no mistake, girl, I still love you.” Perhaps it’s an ode to his wife Mrs. Kim Kardashian West that he’s still the man she fell in love with, despite the medical issues he has faced in the past few years of their marriage. Kanye too sings about how he feels he’s coming out on the other side, and that he still loves his wife and friends.
“Take the top off, let the sun come in (believe it or not the Lord still shines on you,
Woah, for all my dogs that stayed down, we up again (yeah),
Oh I got dirt on my name, I got white on my beard,
I had debt on my books, it’s been a shaky ass year.”
However, “Wouldn’t Leave” is really West’s true transparency on this year’s media frenzy and how it has impacted his personal life. He doesn’t apologize for his behavior, but acknowledges how it has impacted those around him, especially Kim. He even quotes a conversation the two had following his now infamous slavery remark. It’s honestly humbling to hear him say these lyrics.
“I say, ‘Slavery a choice’ they say ‘How Ye?'”
Just imagine if they caught me on a wild day
Now I’m on fifty blogs gettin’ fifty calls,
My wife callin’, screamin’, ‘We bout to lose it all’
Had to calm her down, cause she couldn’t breath,
Told her she could leave me now, but she wouldn’t leave.”
Later in the song, he remarks on his behavior and way of life saying, “I live for now, I don’t know what happen after here. Plus, what was meant to be was meant to be. Even if publicly I lack the empathy. I ain’t finna talk about it, another four centuries. One and one it two but me and you, that’s infinity.”
Kanye also sings a ballad for his daughters, North and Chicago on “Violent Crimes.” He comments on how his views as a man and how men treat women has changed now that he has two daughters of his own. The infamous body his wife dons (and what is likely a major attraction) is something he doesn’t wish for his daughters. He wishes for them to stick to karate or piano, not yoga or pilates.
“Don’t do no yoga, don’t do pilates,
Just play piano and stick to karate,
I pray your body’s draped more like mine, and not like your mommy’s,
Just bein’ salty, but n****s is nuts, and I am a n***a, I know what they want,
I pray that you don’t get it all at once, curves under your dress, I know it’s pervs all on the net.”