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Yeezus

Martin Scorsese has a new film coming out with Leonardo DiCaprio and a slew of other noteworthy actors called The Wolf of Wall Street. Here’s the trailer:

Notice something? Kanye West’s song, “Black Skinhead” is prominent in this wild, raucous trailer. And it fits perfectly. That track is from Kanye’s newest album Yeezus, which officially releases tomorrow.

Admittedly, my exposure to Kanye consists of three things. 1.) Him interrupting Taylor Swift with the “Imma let you finish…” at the 2009 MTV VMAs. 2.) Kanye saying Bush doesn’t care about black people at a hurricane relief concert for Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 3.) His popular songs such as “Gold Digger” and “Stronger.”

Therefore, I went into Yeezus without a reference point in which to say, “That’s classic Kanye style” or “Kanye is trying something different.” My ears essentially went in untainted by anything prior and they came out enjoying what they heard.

The album is as bombardment of auto-tuned vocals with loud drums and techno beats; it makes for a very triply listening experience. As a USA Today article stated, “Like everything else West does, Yeezus is immediately stunning, but requires repeated listenings to be fully appreciated.”

That was my takeaway from the album as well. There’s definitely a, “I’m Kanye West and you’re going to HEAR me!” vibe from the short, but impactful ten-track listing. For instance, the lyrics for, “Black Skinhead” are all about high-octane action, pushing the limits and that Kanye is King. He says, “Baby, we living in the moment, I’ve been a menace for the longest, but I ain’t finished, I’m devoted.”

In a song permeated with more social commentary, “Blood on the Leaves,” I find this song an interesting one because it uses Nina Simone’s “Strange Fruit” as an introduction. That song was a dark song about the lynching of blacks in the South. This song seems to be about the excesses of celebrity and riches. Perhaps, that is the whole point, if one digs deeper. Kanye could be trying to state that we’ve gotten caught up in the excesses of the “present” that we’ve forgotten the past. Of course, I’m not entirely sure how that jibes with the whole “live in the moment” of “Black Skinhead,” but nevertheless.

Overall, I think that’s the point though. Without reading too much into it since, as I’ve stated, my Kanye knowledge is limited, I think Kanye likes his music to be complex, layered with different meanings about society and issues therein, and in general, catchy songs given the use of auto-tune and the loudness of the beats.

There are two things listening to “Black Skinhead” accomplished for me: 1.) I want to listen to more Kanye West beyond this newest and engaging album. 2.) I really want to see Scorsese’s wild comedy about Wall Street.

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