Review: “ye” by Kanye West

Master producer and MC Kanye West is back with an album after two years. The album has what can be expected from Kanye in terms of production; extraordinarily refreshing and well thought out music. In terms of lyrics, what Kanye has to say is also to some extent expected: the album opens with “I Thought About Killing You”, a track that finds Kanye confused, to some extent violent, yet his voice remains measured and peaceful. Suddenly, his voice begins to fuse with the vocoder that was made famous from a previous album, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”. On the album cover, a picture of Wyomingite mountains is tagged with the words “I hate being Bi-Polar its awesome”; perhaps the best way the album can be described is as bipolar. The production is always fresh, but also oscillates between maximalist and minimalist styles. 

“All Mine” is a fully minimalist song, with some moments of synth, but generally relies on 808s and Kanye’s voice, which is more than enough to capture a listener’s attention. Kanye is at times philosophical, at other times hilariously childish; he raps “Let me hit it raw fuck the outcome/none of us would be here without come”. 

“Wouldn’t Leave” is a much more mature refrain. Backed by a gorgeous sampling track, Kanye reminds listeners that he is still himself and he still would never abandon those who he loves and those who love him. 

“No Mistakes” is without a doubt the high point of the album, and to some continuation. It is a pure victory anthem, as Charlie Wilson and Kid Cudi both triumphantly sing the chorus that reminds listeners and Kanye’s subject that he still loves them. Kanye throws shots at Drake, sheds failures he had over the course of the last year, and pronounces himself as fresh and triumphant. His happiness and sense of victory is contagious. 

“Ghost Town” finds that Kanye is on a high that is not coming down. Kid Cudi sings the chorus perfectly, with epic electric guitars that excellently back Cudi’s epic style of singing. Young singer “070 Shake” sings the outro, which is also very well done and continues the epic feeling that Kanye’s music has the tendency to bring out. 

“Violent Crimes” has a minimalist beat and finds Kanye completely sober and reflective. Lyrically, this is perhaps one of Kanye’s most interesting songs yet. Kanye raps about how the way he sees women has transformed after having two daughters, and he spends the song trying to readjust himself to the life of a father above a rapper, arguably one of the most explicit careers a person can pursue. Kanye is hopeful for the future yet scared at the same time of what his daughters will become, and if he will have properly prepared them for that future. 070 Shake and Ty Dolla $ign finish the song and the album with a harmonized duet reaffirming Kanye’s desire to slow his daughter’s maturation and path towards independence, fearful of the fading of the “lie”, or his daughters’ exposure to the reality of the world outside of the protective West home. 

Overall, this album to me is a 9/10. Though at times  the minimalist beats were somewhat unnecessary and detracted from the listening experience, the album overall finds Kanye at his most mature and reflective. He is 40 years old now, so this makes sense. His perspective has dramatically shifted since 2016, and it is fascinating to see it musically expressed. Kanye is now unwilling or perhaps unable to write hits like “Gold Digger”, “Stronger”, or “Power”, and as a result there is no one track in this album that stands out from the others. Together however, the album truly stands out as a musical and lyrical expression of a very charismatic and controversial person’s life, thoughts, and ideals. 

My Plan For Happiness, For the Present and the Future

Image result for happiness

Photo from: MIT Sloan (

A friend of mine recently asked what made me happy. Not the kind of happiness that is temporary and fleeting, but the kind of happiness that leaves a man with a satisfied feeling as he goes to bed. After much thought on the matter, I came to the realization that permanent happiness is not actually permanent; what I must do to continually be happy shifts over the course of my life. 

For this reason, I have decided to make a list of goals, not just for the present me, but for the person I will be in 10 years, in 20 years, and in 50 years. Because to me (and many surely agree), true and permanent happiness is perhaps the most important achievement a person can accomplish in life. Without further ado, here is the list I have concocted. 

For now: 

  • Develop a work ethic. The main way I thought to do this is with a blog, by establishing myself as a daily writer under no necessity. But I don’t want just to be able to blog daily. I want to study daily at college, not just in terms of time, but in terms of efficiency and dedication. 
  • I want to be recognized by others(positively). I am in a group of friends that are extraordinarily talented, dedicated and hard-working people. They are all attending top-tier universities (one form of recognition) and most have literally been recognized for their outstanding contributions to the community in the form of scholarships, awards, and honors. I have not been recognized in almost any of these ways, and it’s because I did not deserve recognition. I would like to earn such recognition and feel like I deserved it as well. 
  • Become fit. I still go to the gym semi-frequently, but I have essentially stopped running all together. This summer, I’d like to start running heavily, perhaps with the goal of running on my college’s cross-country team next fall. 
  • Find more friends. I’m excited for a new chance to socialize with new people as I transition to college and I want to make the absolute most of it. 
  • Become passionate. Find something I am truly passionate about and dedicate myself to it. 

In 10 years: 

  • Find a significant other. I’d like to have a partner in life by then. I have no idea who, what, or how it would be but I believe that would be something I would like. 
  • Work for myself. Create something, head something, rise to the top of something. Whatever I do in the future, I would hate to have to suck up to someone because I’m really bad at doing it. 
  • Be creative. I’d like to maybe keep blogging, or make videos or music. Whatever it will be, I think it would be important to have a creative outlet. 

In 20 years: 

  • Have children and raise them. By far my number one goal in life is this. I believe that nothing will bring me more joy than introducing and educating people of my own blood about the world. 
  • Continue to exercise. 
  • Be widely respected in whatever field I choose to be in. I dream of coming to high school reunions and being regarded as the one alumnus who truly “hit it off”. 

In 50 years: 

  • Stay connected to my children. I would like to treat them well so they come back and treat me well as I begin to die. 
  • Stay especially close with my parents, live near them. I would not like to be separated from them at this time.
  • Continue to have friends. 
  • Meditate and/or other spiritual activity. Though perhaps now it is OK for me to not be in touch with my spiritual identity, I want to definitely revel in it and become familiar with it before my life ends. 

That’s it. If you have thoughts, comments, questions, or anything at all to say, feel free to comment! I will definitely respond to you. 

The Controversy of the “N-word” in Rap Culture

Since the hip-hop/rap genre burst into the mainstream in the 1980’s, general discussion of the “N-word”– its meaning and who can and cannot say the word– has surrounded many music listeners, regardless of race.

Recently, the word and its usage at concerts has been especially a topic of controversy. The question being asked is: if a rapper writes and performs using the “n-word” as part of lyrics to songs, are people justified in simply singing lyrics to a song even if the word is considered to be a slur against black people if used by people are not black. Popular rappers have begun to come out in support of the word being as a part of lyric recitation, but the majority of black rappers who have spoken on the issue declared their opposition to the word being used by anyone except black people. 

Schoolboy Q has often come out in support of people singing any and all of his lyrics at his concerts, here he explains why:

Kendrick Lamar, who is signed to the same label as Schoolboy Q – Top Dawg Entertainment, feels quite differently on the issue: in this now infamous video he stops a white fan from singing because of her use of the “N-word”. 

Kendrick Lamar is perhaps one of my favorite artists of all time. He is truly a master of his craft. But even as a fan of his, I hesitate to support his reaction to the girls use of the “N-word”. It is unreasonable to me to say the least to expect someone to censor themselves when singing the lyrics to the song, especially in the literal and metaphorical heat of the moment. Whether or not the N-word should be used by non-black people is for another discussion, but to me it seems clear that the actions of this girl and anyone singing the lyrics to a song should be considered reasonable and at the very least, excusable.


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