"Facts" — a track released by Kanye West on New Years Day — is a terrible song.
Usually, when a person does what I just did (refer to a song as anything — great, bad, terrible, thirsty, etc — other than existing), this is considered an opinion. Because my feelings about the song, as valid and as strong as they might be, are subjective. Opinions are opinions because they are not objective. Even if a particular opinion is so solid and so convincing that it happens to be universally held, as long as it is not a provable fact, it still remains an opinion. Just a very popular one. And, any statement referring to the quality of music — not the sound quality, but the value of it and whether it is any good — is inherently subjective. Your feelings about a song, even if everyone agrees with you, will never be a fact, and will never not be an opinion.
"Facts," however, is an exception to this rule. It is, objectively, a cartoonishly shitty song. It is so bad that its badness seems intentional. If you disagree, you do not merely have a dissenting opinion. And you are not merely a contrarian. You are, plainly and clearly, wrong. It is fucking awful, and the only relevant debate about its merits has to do with its degree of awfulness.
Is it the worst song of 2016? All things considered, yes. But since 2016 isn't even a week old yet, that's not saying much. Is it the worst Kanye West song I've ever heard? Also a resounding yes. But this also isn't saying much. Because, under normal circumstances, the worst Kanye West song could still conceivably be a better song than 80% of other people's songs.
No, "Facts" goes past all of that. It is so bad that if this was the first Kanye West song I ever willingly listened to, it would have been the last Kanye West song I ever willingly listened to. I would have dismissed this middle-aged man modeling his cadence and delivery like the quintessential millennial's — a feckless Drake facsimile, basically — and I would have been annoyed at the person who recommended him to me. And, if no single person was responsible, I would have been annoyed at the internet. Or millennials. Or electricity. Or any other abstract entity even tangentially responsible for exposing me to that cascade of half-assed auditory fuckshit.
That this is coming from me is likely a surprise for many reading this. My residency on Kanye West island is well-documented. I believe Yeezus is one of the best rap albums ever. A few weeks ago, Spotify informed me that "Sin City," a throwaway song off of a four-year-old Kanye produced compilation album that people treated like well whiskey when it was released, was my third most listened to song in 2015. And, I check Spotify and iTunes at least once a week to see if "Wolves" — the track Kanye debuted on SNL last year — has been released as a single yet. For me, Kanye releasing "Facts" is like going to your favorite sushi spot, ordering a spider roll, and receiving an actual spider wrapped in seaweed stuck in the gut of a bigger spider.
Of course, I'm not alone here. Yesterday, Deadspin's Greg Howard — one of my last remaining neighbors on Kanye West island — also wrote about the agony of being a fan of his music and reconciling himself with the abject and bottomless shitty of "Facts." And, in the past week, other Kanye fans have expressed to me, both privately and publicly, how surprised they were that "Facts" is so bad. One even expressed how surprised she was that people are surprised. Because she doesn't expect great music from him anymore.
And that, more than anything else, saddened me. Because I'm there too. Before I listened to "Facts," I did not expect it to be a great song. Or even a good song. I just hoped that it would be. But the expectation wasn't there. He just seems to have so much going on — fashion, fucking, New Blackness, etc — that I don't anticipate transcendent music from him anymore. If S.W.I.S.H. or whatever the fuck his upcoming album is called happens to be a great one, my most prominent feeling when first hearing it will be relief.
I've had this feeling before. Multiple times, actually. The first time was the first time I saw Tim Hardaway play again after his ACL reconstruction, and I kept waiting for him to be as explosive as he was pre-injury even though I knew it probably wasn't going to happen. And today, on the 5th day of January in 2016, for the first time ever I'm seriously wondering if Kanye West is still great at making music.
Maybe "Facts" isn't a terrible anomaly that needs to get taken out back, shot in the fucking face, revived, shot in the fucking face again, and buried and forgotten about forever. Maybe this is just what we're going to get from Kanye from this day forward. Maybe we've seen his peak, and we're now in Shaq on the Celtics territory. Maybe he just sucks now.
And maybe he doesn't. Maybe he doesn't! But that there's even a "maybe" now is the only fact that matters.