2. Kanye West "New Slaves"
Producer: Daft Punk,Travi$ Scott,Hudson Mohawke, Mike Dean, Kanye West
Label: Def Jam
Even when you strip it of everything-the projections, silhouetted Saturday Night Live stage set, the fact that it was the first new Kanye song of the new era, etc.- "New Slaves" is gorgeous. Kanye referred to his newfound aesthetic as "minimalist," but Yeezus did not turn out to be as quite as no frills as, say, its cover art might've led us to expect. You hear this song, though, and you understand what he was getting at. Just a few pulsing notes and a voice. That's all you need when Kanye cuts through the notes somewhere between vicious and conscious, allowing only silence as the response to his final rhetorical question. What could they even say now? Nothing that would be heard as loudly or clearly as this. —Alexander Gleckman