Kanye West’s album “Ye” is arguably his most personal project, and the most open that Kanye has ever been with his listeners. Appropriately self-titled, Kanye’s album explores his struggles with mental illness, relationship conflicts, his children, and opioid abuse. And he fits all of this within a short track list; the album clocks in at about 20 minutes of listening time.
The album cover confronts Kanye’s mental issues head-on with a conflicting statement about him hating being bipolar and loving it at the same time. It shows the duality of his feelings about his illness. The landscape in the background is a picture that Kanye took on the way to the album release party.
In the opening track of the record, “I Thought About Killing You,” Ye opens up with a bird’s eye view of his mental struggle. Kanye repeatedly states that he thought about “killing you.” Though he doesn’t indicate who this person may be, he also states that he thought about killing himself, and he loves himself more than he loves anyone (of course).
He doesn’t sing the lyrics, but mostly just recites them. With the melodic and eerie instrumentals and the “no one” echoed repeatedly in the background, the track has a chilling vibe to it. Later on, the track gradually builds into a more aggressive beat, setting a great tone for the rest of the album.
The middle four tracks (“Yikes,” “All Mine,” “Wouldn’t Leave,” and “No Mistakes”) are where Kanye projects great messages, but the brevity of each song cuts their impact short. Averaging around two and a half minutes each, the songs end before you know it. On “Yikes,” for example, Kanye raps deeply about how his thoughts cause people harm. Personally, I found the rhyming scheme redundant on that track, and his message seems unfinished
In “All Mine,” the chorus is sung in a fast, high-pitched tone that gives the song a childish vibe which conflicts with the explicit lyrics. “Wouldn’t Leave” is Kanye’s response to his controversial comments about slavery being a choice. On the track, he poses the question of what would it take for his significant other to leave – him being controversial, denied, unloved, broke? The smooth, angelic voice questioning if their loved one is going to leave makes this chorus one of my favorites of the album. “Ye” continues this narrative on the next track “No Mistakes.” Opposite of the previous song, Kayne assures the listener that his significant other would never leave. The eerie “mixed-tape” tone gives it a very enjoyable listen, but the song’s short length makes it feel like a teaser track from the iTunes previews.
The final two tracks are my favorites on the record. “Ghost Town” opens with adecades-old Shirley Ann Lee sample that set a great tone to the next two tracks. The sample transitions nicely to the beat of the track, which features Kanye actually singing – and it’s not bad. But what is terrible is Kid Cudi’s singing. He somehow manages to mess up his only two lines. Kanye’s continues the narrative of him struggling with his mental state and how it affects his family. The track ends with a very chilling conclusion by 070 Shake. She sings about touching a hot stove and how not feeling the pain makes her free. This transitions into the final track “Violent Crimes,” where Kanye pours out his fatherly worries to us. Kanye ends his album expressing his changed views of the world after having his daughter. He worries about his daughters growing up too quickly and becoming overly sexualized by men. The very angelic chorus gives the track a saintly and holy feel. The track is an excellent conclusion to this short album.
I love the direction that Kanye is heading with this album. The reviews of “Ye” have been split due to the album’s short length, but in the end, I am okay with it. The album’s overall message is conveyed well, and there is no need for filler or redundancy. Listeners will come away feeling satisfied and not that their time has been wasted. The instrumentals are almost flawless and the lyrics are great. “Ye” also has a decent replay value.
And for that, I give “Ye” a 7/10.