February 9, 2016

JAIN | Ode to a Kanye West

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I’ve been pretty good about going to class this semester, but not so good about doing work when I get home. Usually this means I’m up relatively late trying to convince myself that I can get away with doing my work between classes tomorrow or not at all. Last night was one of those nights, but luckily Kanye blessed me with another morsel of information about his forthcoming album. At 1:23 a.m., Kanye tweeted yet another new album title, T.L.O.P.

At this point of the night, I realized I could either briefly speculate possible words for each letter of the cryptic acronym or continue working with the fervor of a Cornell junior without a summer internship. I chose the former, but unfortunately this led to a full on Kanye appreciation night. But is that really a bad thing, man? It’s Kanye.

Regardless of how you feel about Kanye’s personality, there’s really no denying the consistent quality of his music. For a mainstream artist that’s been around as long as ’Ye has, his sterling album record is nearly unprecedented. From his debut work, The College Dropout, to 2013’s Yeezus, every Kanye album has been both a commercial and critical success. Even his least critically successful album, 808s and Heartbreak, has gone on to be hailed by many as the most influential album for contemporary hip-hop — a testament to Kanye’s foresight and ingenuity.

That being said, where does Kanye go now? For a guy that’s seemingly always at the forefront of innovation in hip-hop, there’s not a lot of unchartered territory for Kanye to explore. With the release of “No More Parties in LA” and “Real Friends,” it doesn’t seem like Kanye is trying to do something new. With production more similar to MBDTF and Graduation’s bastard and lyrical flow we haven’t heard in a while, it seems like Kanye is turning a new leaf. He’s not drawing from Chicago House, Pop Art or Greek myth, and I’m not sure what to think.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved both “Real Friends” and “No More Parties in LA,” but my only hang up is with the quality of the actual album. What if it’s just fine? I’ve never heard a Kanye album and thought, “Well, that wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t all that into it or anything.” Every Kanye album has left me both thoughtful and fulfilled. I feel like this might be due to the constant innovation in Kanye’s music. If his latest album is just an amalgamation of old Kanye vibes, I’m not totally sure critics or I will be overwhelmed by it. To an extent, a large part of the novelty of Kanye’s work is his constant pushing of boundaries and subversion of the norm or expected. For Kanye to release an album where he just sounds like Kanye isn’t very Kanye of him.

His album will come out Thursday, and Kanye will be live streaming a listening party from MSG to theaters all over the country. Luckily, my friends and I got tickets to see it at the Ithaca Regal Cinemas for the cool price of $25. There was a $530 option that included a jean jacket, but my friends and I all agreed we had plenty of jean jackets already. None of us are totally sure what the listening party will entail or what the songs will sound like, but it’s safe to say we’re all anxious and excited to hear ’Ye’s new work. Here’s to Kanye’s seven album hit streak and hoping everything I wrote up there is wrong.