Kanye West released another teaser video for Yeezus overnight, and also played the album in its entirety at Art Basel (including a roof-raising a cappella rendition of “New Slaves”). The album is out next week, of course, but whoever has the masters must be guarding them like crazy, and although there’s been lots of publicity, there’s been very little in the way of actual information about the record and its contents. Like everyone else, Flavorwire has been scrambling for any and all tidbits of news about Yeezus — here’s everything we know so far.
– It’s angry, which is no surprise to anyone who’s listened to “New Slaves” and/or “Black Skinhead.” Pretty much all the descriptions that have come out of the launch party at Milk Studios have commented on how dark and raw it sounds, observations that have been echoed by various collaborators and music industry types.
– It’s minimalist. In his interview with The New York Times, West cited modernist icon Le Corbusier as an influence on both the record’s aesthetics and its sound, and the album’s (non-)cover certainly seems like a statement of intent.
– It’s influenced by industrial music. CNN wonders, “When did Kanye discover Ministry”? This is an interesting trend in hip hop — it’s probably no accident that MTV described Yeezus as “recall[ing] the pummeling rush of groups like Death Grips.”
– It’s also apparently somewhat house-influenced. When West was actually asked about the album during his NYT interview, he had some interesting things to say: “I knew that I wanted to have a deep Chicago influence on this album, and I would listen to like, old Chicago house. I think that even ‘Black Skinhead’ could border on house, ‘On Sight’ sounds like acid house, and then ‘I Am a God’ obviously sounds, like, super house.”
– It features 10 tracks, as follows: 1. “On Sight” 2. “Black Skinhead” 3. “I Am a God” (which has Christian types somewhat alarmed) 4. “New Slaves” 5. “Hold My Liquor” 6. “I’m in It” 7. “Blood on the Leaves” 8. “Guilt Trip” 9. “Send It Up” 10. “Bound”
– The title is clearly an allusion to Jesus, but it’s also a matter of reclaiming and redefining identity: “Simply put,” West said recently, “West was my slave name and Yeezus is my god name.”
– Lyrically, it’s less personal and more political than 808s and Heartbreak or My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Race relations are a particularly prominent theme — Malik Yusef told Hitfix in February, “Just remember black music, the black experience… it’s a throwback to that era, [but also] a distillation of what’s happening in the modern world.” One track apparently samples “Strange Fruit,” and elsewhere, one song features the lyric, “Black girl sipping white wine/ Put my fist in her like the Civil Rights sign.” Yikes.
– Kanye doesn’t sing a lot this time around. In his February interview with Hitfix, Yusef said, “I don’t know if we’d ever revisit [the] amount of singing [of 808s and Heartbreaks].”
– Confirmed guest vocalists thus far are: Chief Keef, Kid Cudi, King L and Bon Iver. The-Dream and Yusef are said to have “contributed.”
– Producers include Rick Rubin (who gets an “executive producer” credit, which basically means he’s more important than everyone else), along with Daft Punk, RZA, Mike Dean, Hudson Mohawke, No ID, S1, The Heatmakerz, Travis Scott, Young Chop, Arca and… Skrillex.
– Despite the general lack of standard-style promotion around the record, there’s apparently going to be a video for at least one of its songs — and the video in question is based on American Psycho.
– It’s not finished. Or, at least, it wasn’t two days ago.