Story by Robert Hansen
Kanye West is a genius, it’s pretty much solidified at this point in his career. No matter what an individual may feel about his body of work, he’s received universal acclaim from his debut The College Dropout to Yeezus. Mr. West has the work to support the claim.
It’s been nearly three years since the release of Yeezus and the fact that we are just days away from a whole new album is enough to generate excitement… but I’ve got this feeling that I can’t seem to shake.
Should we be nervous?
When talks of this album first started to appear, we were led to believe that it would be called So Help Me God, and let’s be real it’s still a dope title, and sounded like a great successor, much like Good Ass Job before it became My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The album spawned a few promotional singles such as “All Day,” “Only One,” and “FourFiveSeconds,” featuring the great Paul McCartney. Then, we got a name change in the form of SWISH.
While we knew the album was coming, SWISH didn’t do much to spark interest as we weren’t sure what direction Kanye would be taking his album. Never one to back track, in terms of the sound he crafts with every project, and all we had left was to put our faith in a guy called West, and hope that he knew what he was doing.
2016 arrives and West drops the tepidly received “Facts” and later “Real Friends,” with Ty Dolla Sign, a cool single warning listeners about the struggle of keeping real people in your circle. At the end of the track, we were served up a snippet-turned-collaboration with Kendrick Lamar on “No Parties In L.A.”. Keep in mind that these singles have yet to be released for purchase or streaming, other than SoundCloud. Then, late in January he released the tracklist as well as changing the album title again.
Some folks didn’t appreciate the name change, mainly Wiz Khalifa, and he didn’t hesitate to make it known. This, unfortunately, sparked a nasty feud and a slew of tweets from Kanye, which took aim at Wiz’s career, his love life, his style and son with Amber Rose. We all know that beef is a semi-decent way of promoting your album, but it backfired on West a great deal when Amber Rose decided to offer her two cents, which I won’t get into now, but let’s say it left ‘Ye with some egg on his face.
This didn’t bode well for Kanye and with a short amount of time left before his album is to see the light of day, it’s looking pretty weird.
Kanye went from appointing his seventh LP “The album of life,” to “ONE of the greatest of all time.” It doesn’t sound very Yeezy like, since he’s known to be pretty bold when discussing his projects of any variety. Maybe it’s reaching, but it just seems like someone’s confidence is a little shaken.
Track list. Check. Features. Check. Release date. Check. Title. Uh?
The rapper’s wife, Kim Kardashian, took a poll on Twitter asking fans what they’re favorite title for the album was. They were given the choices of So Help Me God, SWISH, and Waves. So Help Me God was the victor.
On February 4, with exactly one week to go before the big debut, Kanye West revealed in an interview with Big Boy on L.A.’s Real 92.3, that his album “don’t have a name yet.” No big deal, somebody in Kanye’s position could drop a title-less album. However that is not the case, since it’s been since revealed that he’s in search of a title. But, this late in the game he’s treading waters. For all we know, this album will be one of the greats, but ‘Ye’s confidence level doesn’t seem to shine the way it normally would.
It is possible that Kanye is preparing to surprise the world. After all, he wouldn’t set up the reveal of Yeezy Season 3 in conjunction with his album if he wasn’t prepared, right? Of course not. Kanye is the most calculated person there is in the music industry. He wouldn’t go into something he couldn’t see to the end, and definitely wouldn’t if it doesn’t have a chance of reaching his own personal level of expectation.
The situation here is reminiscent of the Detox fiasco. Kanye has reached a point in time where he is infinitely bigger than the music. Artists and men like Dr. Dre and Kanye West aim to excel to the maximum in their craft. It’s no longer about being a starving artist craving the limelight, it’s how the listeners and fans react to the music. Dr. Dre wasn’t delaying Detox for sixteen years because he was developing headphones, he was afraid that his album wouldn’t live up to the hype, which is a career-killer. Fortunately for Dre, Compton was incredible.
The same goes for Kanye. He is the type of artist that hits new heights with every release, the pressure behind his new album had to weigh on him. It’s impossible for it to not have. Since the release of Yeezus in 2013, Kanye got married and now has two kids. This is not the same man we’ve grown accustomed to. There are many things to factor in when breaking down an album we’ve yet to hear.
With singles that didn’t seem to take, a failed and resolved beef, the scorn of ex-lovers, and the mystery and switcheroo of album titles, Kanye West has all the makings of an eventful album release. This could be a make or break album for Yeezy. It has the potential to be one of two things: continue the acclaim seen with every album Kanye has released or be the album that knocks him down a peg. Why should listeners and fans be confident with a project that West himself seems a bit shaky about? Granted, they eat up everything he serves, but that is for another day.
It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the album title ends up as Ultra Light Beam.