Ebony’s Miles Marshall Lewis breaks down what Kanye’s new album means to the rap game. The sixth studio album from the rap genius is full of emotion and angst, Lewis says, and clearly isn’t like Kanye’s other work. Lewis also compares Kanye to Prince in his heyday: His new musical direction may not be radio-friendly, but it deserves praise and its own audience.
Consider that Kanye basically dropped Yeezus with no cover — his see-through CD-case artwork owes a debt to Prince’s infamous Black Album and its jet-black cover with its “just listen to the music” aesthetic. Yeezus also has no radio singles, echoing Prince’s original plans for both The Black Album and 1985’s Around the World in a Day (before he caved to record company pressure and put out “Raspberry Beret”). Then, Kanye and his Gemini brethren both have a lil’ Paris fixation. Yeezus was partially recorded at his loft in the French capital, and the Louis Vuitton don complains about being “in a French-ass restaurant, hurry up with my damn croissants!” and paparazzi (“c‘est la vie… I’ll move my family out the country”). Prince’s own Paris fixation takes too long to explain; just see here.
Kanye took another page from Prince’s book in 2010 by severely limiting his media interviews. (His Royal Badness was notoriously silent in his most creative prime.) Yet Kanye’s promise to “pop a wheelie on the zeitgeist” highlights the greatest similarity between the two. Kanye naysayers be damned, but the MC has the spirit of our times by the balls. Hip-hop would be emphatically less interesting without the Ali-confident roar of his big mouth and, even more Prince-like, his artistic envelope pushing.
Read Miles Marshall Lewis’ entire piece at Ebony.
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