Calm, meditative, brief. They're not words anyone's ever used to describe Kanye West, a 40-year-old man who recently stormed into the offices of TMZ, declared slavery "a choice", and got verbally slain by a staff member.

They're also not words you'd use to describe Kanye's music. On his chaotic last album, The Life of Pablo, he veered between uplifting church sermons and saying horrible sex things about Taylor Swift, and was still tinkering with its 20 songs weeks after release. He might still be fixing Wolves.

All that makes Ye the anti-Kanye album. The second album of five from his Wyoming rap camp, it has seven songs and clocks in at 23 minutes. It opens with a spoken word meditation on suicide and ends with a bruising ballad about his daughters, called Violent Crimes. Kanye sings as much as he raps.

For the first time since The College Dropout, we have a Kanye album that doesn't push him, or hip-hop's boundaries, to their absolute limits. "Shit could get menacing," West declares on the chirpy bounce of Yikes. But it never really does.


Instead, Ye is condensed, favouring small bursts of energy over multi-song suites of mania. It regularly mentions West's state of mind and mental health. On Yikes, he calls bipolar his "superpower". "I hate being Bi-Polar its awesome," declares Ye's cover art.

Kanye's still innovating: the breathy beats of All Mine, the way I Thought About Killing You switches moods, the outro on No Mistakes. But the album's centrepiece is Ghost Town, which starts like something off Graduation, adds stadium-sized guitar riffs, and verses sung by Kanye, Kid Cudi and 070 Shake.

Not a single line is rapped, and it ends in a clattering of drums, riffs, video game bleeps and a cappella chants of "I feel kind of free". Transcendent is the only word that really describes its effect. Tell me the last rap album that made you feel that way.

Sure, Ye's upset the Kanye diehards, but he's also proven his brand of genius is mortal, and the results are still engrossing. That's better than another boring sex quip about Tay-Tay.

For pure visceral rap thrills, fans of Kanye's harder-edged material instead have Pusha-T's Daytona to blast out of their subs.

The former Clipse star scrapped an entire album in favour of this, seven songs of brutally direct, soul-drenched rap-battle classics, one that's already taken aim at hip-hop's biggest name: Drake. So far, Pusha appears to be winning.

Daytona takes Kanye's best production efforts in years, with Pusha drenching delicious soul samples in his brutal flow. He'd sound good rapping grocery lists, so this is a meeting of the minds. I must have listened to If You Know You Know 20 times by now, and I still get chills when the beat drops.

But Daytona's more than just the year's best rap album: it's a sign that Ye might mean more once all five albums from Kanye's Wyoming rap camp are released.

After Daytona, Kid Cudi, Nas and Teyana Taylor have their work cut out to deliver A-grade product like this.

Kanye - Ye


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Kanye's mental breakdown is still engrossing

Pusha-T - Daytona


Good Music


A-grade product from hip-hop's hardest man