June 01, 2018
The path to new Kanye West music is never smooth, but this time it included Donald J. Trump, a Make America Great Again hat, a winding 105-minute YouTube interview, an excess of Twitter posts, controversial comments about slavery and a confession on TMZ TV about liposuction.
Kanye West Debuts New Album, ‘Ye,’ Via Live Stream From Wyoming
For some, it even included a trip to Wyoming. With Chris Rock.
Yet as the planned Friday release date for Mr. West’s new album approached, next to nothing was known about the much-anticipated project. That changed late Thursday night as Mr. West unveiled the first taste of his eighth solo LP — titled “Ye,” Mr. Rock announced in his introduction around midnight — via Live Stream from Jackson Hole, where for months Mr. West has been working on a slate of releases for his G.O.O.D. Music/Def Jam collaborators.
The debut of “Ye,” which was not immediately made available on streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music, included seven songs, with guest features from Ty Dolla Sign, Jeremih, Kid Cudi and 070 Shake. Mr. West’s lyrics do not shy from current events, nor from his recent brushes with ignominy. On one track, he references comments he made about slavery during the TMZ appearance: “They said build your own, I said, ‘How, Sway?’”/I said slavery’s a choice, they said, ‘How, Ye?’/Just imagine if they caught me on a wild day.”
On another, Mr. West references the rape accusations against the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, rapping: “Russell Simmons wanna pray for me, too/I’mma pray for him ‘cause he got MeToo-ed.”
The last-minute, seemingly slapdash musical rollout, complete with a destination event (including chartered flights for influential people) and an online video stream, had a whiff of the reveal for “The Life of Pablo,” Mr. West’s previous album from February 2016, which he debuted during a fashion show at Madison Square Garden. (“The Life of Pablo” was not uploaded online for public consumption until two days later, and Mr. West continued to tweak the content long after its release.)
During the live stream on Thursday, Mr. West did not detail his plans for a wide release of the album. His label, Def Jam, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. West’s recent return to the fray — both musical and extracurricular — followed a period of relative quiet from the rapper, who scrapped tour dates and was hospitalized for psychiatric care near the end of 2016 following a period of onstage unpredictability. His meeting with the then-President-elect at Trump Tower that December was his last public appearance for some time, though it did foreshadow his interests upon resurfacing.
In April, Mr. West announced that he would be producing five albums, including his solo release and a collaboration between himself and Kid Cudi (as Kids See Ghost) scheduled for June 8. Pusha-T’s “Daytona,” released last Friday, was the first to see the light of day, while albums from Nas and Teyana Taylor are forthcoming. Each album from the Wyoming sessions is expected to be just seven songs long.
Promises of new music aside, Mr. West has turned heads with his extended Twitter embrace of President Trump, the MAGA hat and other conservative figures like Candace Owens, who was on hand for the album debut in Wyoming. The rapper’s Twitter posts about “freethinkers” and the “thought police” earned him praise on the right, while some longtime supporters and collaborators were left scratching their heads.
The two songs he has released since were similarly polarizing: “Lift Yourself,” a satire of sorts, had nonsense lyrics (“poopity-scoop”), while “Ye vs. the People” found Mr. West debating politics with the rapper T.I. “Ever since Trump won, it proved that I could be president,” Mr. West argued.
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