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Steven - AV September 14, 2018

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Ye feels like the end. If the lean economy of Pusha T’s 20-minute Daytona felt refreshing in a sea of overlong rap albums, the brevity of Ye comes off as outright apathy. Kanye West’s previous effort, The Life of Pablo, had a famously turbulent rollout, with songs changed at the last minute and then changed back. The result was definitely imperfect, with many songs that felt like half-formed thoughts thrown in to fill space, but there were also good ideas in there, coherent songs that contained some of the best work he’d done in a while, even if not all of them could stave off the continued decline of his lyrics. Ye is an album that feels entirely comprised of those undercooked concepts. Its lone highlight, “Ghost Town”, works most thanks to a great feature from up-and-comer 070 Shake; she’s the one actually trying. Throughout the entire album, however, Kanye never feels like he is. These are uniformly some of the worst verses he’s ever put together, bad enough to tank the okay-to-good beats behind them because even the good ones aren’t good enough to make up the difference. Though Kanye long ago abandoned the relatability that launched his career, up to now the music was good enough to view his self-obsessed ascent at a distance. If the songs grew more and more narcissistic, the ideas only became bolder; perhaps the fall was inevitable, but it hadn’t come yet. His work could be viewed instead as a detached portrait of fame and what fame can do to a person. The Life of Pablo plays now like a warning, with its more confounding moments a signal that Kanye’s eventual irrelevance could be near. Listening to Ye feels like watching that portrait curl up and burn in a fire of his own making. It feels like an admission that the music no longer matters and that the pitfalls of fame have eaten what creativity was left, as if the whole time we’ve been staring at some sort of picture of Dorian Ye. Overall Rating: D

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