More so than many artists, Kanye West's music doesn't exist in a vacuum, divorced from his IRL behavior. It's perhaps impossible to make the argument that it does not matter what color his hair is, how unrelatable his rants have become, or who he's being photographed with. And yet, if a Kanye album is even vaguely on the horizon, it is without a doubt anticipated.
Kanye has an album's worth of material based on the last few months of 2016 alone. Kim's robbery. An involuntary hospitalization. A political endorsement that seems to betray everything he's stood for—on and off wax. The last time Kanye West receded from the spotlight with the world unsure of his abilities and state of mind, he returned with what he now refers to as a "backhanded apology" and what approximately 98 percent of us consider to be his best album. Whether Yeezy actually believes he has anything to apologize for this time around is the question.
His next album will be the most heavily scrutinized of his career. It has the ability to retroactively affect his catalog, reshape his entire legacy, and change how we listen to Kanye from here on out. Everyone will be waiting to listen—and pass judgment. —Frazier Tharpe