5 Things to Know About Kanye West's New Album 'Ye'

Though just seven tracks long, 'Ye' leaves us with plenty to chew on.

From a secluded Jackson Hole retreat Thursday night, Kanye West pulled back the curtains on his new album. The quasi-self-titled Ye, West's first new album since 2016's "album of the life" The Life of the Pablo, arrives beneath the unfortunate shadow of his recent marathon of baffling comments about slavery being a "choice" and supporting Donald "Grab 'Em by the Pussy" Trump. Though the slavery comments get a direct reference in the Partynextdoor-featuring "Wouldn't Leave," West's seemingly career-contradicting embrace of far-right figures in recent months isn’t given much actual context across the album's seven songs, despite Pusha-T's promise that all fans' questions would be receiving answers.

Like many fervently supportive fans of West's back catalog of classics, I haven't quite decided what to make of this particular Yeezy era just yet. I'm still mostly frustrated by it all. Yet, there's a lot to discuss here. From the predictably enthralling production to West's openness about being bipolar, let's dive into a few initial Ye takeaways.


Soul-Oriented Production

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Though the case could be made quite fairly that Ye gives fans a mini-tour through West's different production styles, what emerges most on the first few listens is that the more soulful side of his approach is back on the front lines. The aforementioned "Wouldn't Leave," for example, weaves together PND, Jeremih, and Ty Dolla Sign for a soul-drenched meditation on relationships in the face of public pressure. The soul is upfront again with John Legend on "Ghost Town."

Stacked Features

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In the past, West has used guest features like colors on a palette, throwing brush strokes across a track until you're left with a wall of sound. West's 2010 opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is perhaps the best example of this. With Ye, the features—which also include Young Thug, Kid Cudi, and Valee—feel a bit more outwardly traditional in their presentation, even when the artists themselves are a surprise. That's excluding, of course, a seemingly meta appearance from Nicki Minaj.

Multiple Bipolar References

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In Ye opener "I Thought About Killing You," West could be interpreted as having a candid conversation with himself through song. With "Yikes," West gets more direct:

That's my bipolar shit, n***a what?

That's my superpower, n***a ain't no disability

I'm a superhero! I'm a superhero!

The album's cover also includes the familiar quote "I hate being bipolar, it's awesome" emblazoned across the Wyoming skyline. Unfortunately, West's commendable openness to discuss his relationship with bipolar disorder will likely be used by some as a blanket excuse for some of his recent fanbase-dividing remarks, which makes about as much sense as Roseanne blaming Ambien for a racist tweet.

Kim Kardashian Revelations

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Dedication to Daughters

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Ye closes with "Violent Crimes," a cut that sees him exploring some of the same themes he previously dabbled in on Late Registration. "Father forgive me, I'm scared of the karma," West raps after introducing the repeated assertion that some men are "monsters" toward women until they get older and have daughters of their own. West, who says he now sees women as "something to nurture," speaks directly to his own daughters across the track and even expresses his wish that one of them grows up to be like Minaj. That line, judging by what's said in the voicemail attached to the end of the song, may have received some input from Minaj herself.

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