What can we say that will convince you that this is one of the greatest albums of the last five years? Nothing, really, because it's simply the album so many people love to hate, and so many other people love to love (in part, because of that hate). But the power of Yeezus to save, heal, and deliver rap—let alone, all of pop music—from the monotonous routine of radio-ready singles and club-bangers and predictable guest features is patently undeniable.
After Kanye West delivered two crowd-pleasing albums, both of which containing the kinds of lush-production singles and summer-owning hits people have come to expect of him, he brought along something so, so different. Something with techno and house-driven sounds. Something that, lyrically, borders on the hysterical, the categorically insane, and the intentionally blasphemous. Something that has guest features by relatively obscure Chicago rappers and dancehall artists, whose big R&B hooks come not by a Top 40 songstress, but by go-to Kanye collaborator Justin Vernon (like Kanye, someone who's won Grammy's and hated on them, too).
This is an album where Kanye has a conversation with Jesus, screams about being a God, and laughs about crashing someone's Corolla. It's manic. It's chaotic. It sounds like an album that was run up against its label deadline, because it was an album that ran up against the label deadline, to the point where Rick Rubin had to come in and minimize the madness, mitigate the chaos into something that could actually be packaged into an album. It's musical collaborators run all over the map: Hudson Mohawke, Daft Punk, Travis Scott. The samples, for Kanye, have never been more eclectic. The ideas, never more off-the-farm.
But that's why we love it. We love it because it's daring, because it's different, because it defies every typical idea about record-making in rap, let alone pop music. Despite (or maybe because of) all this chaos, it succeeded. And even if you don't love it—in fact, especially if you hate it—you have to admit the album's indisputably controversial nature. Yeezus is, in every sense of the word, a piece of disruptive art. And if we aren't allowed to objectively love it for its greatness, or for its musicality, its sonic genius, then we absolutely must love it for that. Objectively so.
Sidney Lumet once said that, for any director with a little lucidity, masterpieces are films that come by accident. The individual pieces of Yeezus barely make sense alone, let alone from conception as an album. But as an album and an end result? We remain convinced it is an album that will represent more of a breakthrough moment for rap than it ever will from Kanye West, who we have known—all along, this entire time—to expect things like this from. — Foster Kamer