Following the announcement of Kanye West’s tenth studio album “God’s Country,” here are five things we’d like to see whenever the project drops.
It’s always tricky predicting a Kanye West album, as the wily veteran has consistently explored new sounds and styles with every release. Be that as it may, that doesn’t stop his fans — us at HNHH included — from speculating about what he might be cooking up. A fool’s errand, to be sure, but one that invites some interesting discussion all the same. So what is Kanye West conjuring for his tenth studio album? Here are five things we hope to see whenever it arrives in full — share your own hopes and fears below.
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It’s no secret that Kanye West has given himself to God, a decision that had a profound impact on his most recent album Jesus Is King. Not only thematically, but sonically; gospel played a prominent role in the arrangements, many of which used the major key to further enhance the uplifting vibes. That’s not to say that the project was emotionally one-note, but it did feel like Kanye was looking to capture the feelings and values he draws from his faith; inspiration, harmony, and unity.
Absolutely fair, but the niche-style of production did leave Jesus Is King alienating some of his longtime fans, especially those who vainly hope for a second coming of the “Old Kanye.” A new question arises: how can Kanye West represent for Christianity while exploring sonic territory that may feel at odds with it? The answer lies within the conceptualization process; consider the scope of imagery and parabolic storytelling found within the bible, an epic that features bloody battles, world-ending leviathans, floods, murder, and of course, the Devil himself. Many devices that lend themselves well to some interesting thematic exploration, especially if Kanye dares to dive into some of the darker territory.
DR. DRE INVOLVEMENT
It goes without saying that Dr. Dre’s involvement can immediately ramp up a project’s expectation levels. Not only is the Good Doctor a notorious perfectionist, but he is also one of the best sound engineers in the entire game. When people praise his production, his mixing all too often remains one of the unspoken pillars of his arsenal. Realistically speaking, it’s hard to picture Dre lacing Kanye with some of his beats — though he did provide Eminem with four trademark bangers on Music To Be Murdered By, so anything is possible.
Instead, it’s likely that Dre’s role will be that of an executive producer, helping Kanye arrange, mix, and most effectively tell the story he wishes to tell. As fans know, Dre’s sonic inclinations tend to naturally gravitate towards the darker, minor-key sound, so it should be interesting to see how the two brilliant minds combine. Either way, we’re bound to be receiving a record that sounds phenomenal, at the very least; perhaps the days of Kanye West albums being mixed the day before release have come to an end.
WHAT UP YEEZUS
Yes, the “Old Kanye” still remains a wistful topic that old heads fondly reminisce over at every occasion. At this point, however, Kanye’s career has stretched for so long that there are actually multiple variations of “Old Kanye,” each of which hold their own set of lyrical and production preferences. It stands to reason that the prototypical “Old Kanye” archetype is the one responsible for his earliest artistic stages, The College Dropout and Late Registration Kanye, prone to flipping samples and penning endearing lyricism. Yet within these past few years, there has been a growing nostalgia for Yeezus, an album that boldly stands as Ye’s most sonically inventive.
Curiously enough, the recently released snippet for “Wash Us In The Blood” that sparked this post to begin with conjures memories of Yeezus, particularly synth-heavy songs like “On Sight” and the aptly titled “I Am A God.” Though it’s too short to gain a bigger picture of the entire song, it does invite hope that Kanye will be looking to his sixth studio album for inspiration, if only to remind himself that innovation never fails to pay off.
One of the main critiques leveled toward Kanye West is the diminished emphasis on his lyricism. It’s easy to forget that his pen game on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy was damn near elite. But by the time Ye rolled around it seemed as if bars had become an afterthought, something to be whipped up in the final stages of the album’s development. That’s not to say Kanye should be looking to turn heads with every verse — though you know damn well he has another “No More Parties In L.A.” in him — but it would be nice to see him spend a little more time on fleshing out his songwriting on a lyrical level.
In truth, it feels like the majority of songs across Kanye’s last two albums could have been fleshed out a little further. “Closed on Sunday, you’re my Chick-Fil-A” may be funny for a moment or two, but then you realize it’s basically product placement in aural form. Though there are moments of brilliance, like on the razor-tight “On God,” Kanye doesn’t feel concerned with overthinking his writing — even though he has proven himself more than capable of shining in that department. It’s sad, considering that a more lyrically focused Kanye would all but guarantee God’s Country more longevity than its predecessor. Where do you stand on Ye’s waning emphasis on his bars?
A SINGLE CUSS WORD
Balk if you must, but Kanye West’s scoundrel ways remain entrenched within his legacy as much as anything. This is a man who changed the way we look at bleach-stained t-shirts forever. Who openly lusted after not one, not two, but four of his sisters-in-law. Who wrote “I’m In It” and later revisited the dumbed-down yet no less provocative “I Love It.” Despite giving himself to the ways of Jesus, his hedonistic side still lingers overhead, quietly beloved by many of his longtime fans. And while it’s unlikely we’ll ever see him revisit the maddest days of his horndoggery — after all, he is a family man and a God-fearing one at that — a little mischief can certainly go a long way. So give us a single cuss word to hold on to, to cherish, be it a “shit,” a “fuck,” or something far more inventive.