Kanye West - Ye: Undeath of the Author

>> Kanye West has been making headlines recently, and never for good things. If it’s all a postmodern media tour for “Ye”, the message fits the music.

The Good:

Kanye got his start as a producer, and it shows here. “Ye” has some truly masterful beats, stellar samples, and perfect pacing. No matter how many albums he releases, Kanye never gets tired of making music that just sounds good. He can pull feeling from a sample, a pause, or a skipped beat better than almost anyone in the business. The problem is, to hear all that, you also need to listen to his lyrics.

The Bad:

To call Kanye’s lyrics tasteless would be the understatement of the year. All of his recent comments in the media are here in full force, plus some new album-exclusive additions. “Ye” is about, in order: the inextricable bond between abuse and love, cheating on your wife, how money fixes relationships, slavery being a choice, relationships being based on money again, fighting with Drake, why you shouldn’t hate Kanye, and how you can’t realize women are people until you have a daughter.

The lyrics on “Ye” split the difference between classic rap tropes and Kanye’s newfound MAGA fanbase. If you’re wondering who that mix appeals to, you’re not alone. It’s not really clear who the intended audience is for this album its offensive, but not in an enjoyable Wu-Tang way. At the same time, Kanye talks about hard life is for a Trump supporter in 2018. It’s almost like “Ye” is a view into a parallel world, one that exists only in Reddit posts and bathroom stall graffiti: a world where words don’t have consequences.


There’s a literary concept called Death of the Author. It talks about how an audience has to ignore the creator of a work and judge the content on its own. With “Ye”, Kanye is refusing to let that happen. He understands he’s made enemies, said inexcusable things, and he doesn’t want you to forget them. Instead, he wants you to feel bad for the backlash he’s faced. It’s true, Kanye’s based his career on his own endorsement of his opinions, and “Ye” is a continuation of that approach. This time, though, he may have gone too far. 2/5 <<