Kanye West


Def Jam • 2022

When writing about Kanye West, it can’t just be about the music anymore. Kanye West is a spectacle, a seismograph of the present, and somehow also the worn link that can be used to negotiate pop before and after the great awakening of people to the roughness of things. Of course, no music exists in a vacuum – but it is rarely as saturated with zeitgeist phenomena as in Ye’s case. Cancel culture, rape culture, trauma, toxic masculinity, all the buzzwords of the news are part of his music because you inevitably also adopt them. Because Kanye West, his life and his life companions, are simply too present not to. Add to that the aggressive religiosity of the protagonist and the very interesting question of what rubber slaughterhouse boots as a fashion object say about the state of the collective mind. Let’s put it this way: you actually have to be a neo-liberal technocrat to painlessly enjoy Kanye West 2022. To reduce the whole thing further: Kanye West and also his new chaotic epic »Donda« are actually most exciting at the point where you are drawn into phenomenological contemplation. Because on a purely musical level, it’s just not enough. And that’s no hate. The bar, of course, remains everything Kanye has ever done. On »Donda« there are neither his best beats nor his most absurd lines. A highlight like »Moon« sounds one-to-one like a good »The Life Of Pablo« track, the THICK »Praise God« is only so thick because Travis Scott and Baby Keem are hottt, even »Ok Ok« belongs to Lil Yachty. The rest is disjointed, with occasional beat switches to die for, but most of all you are left with the feeling that all you finally want is a focused album instead of these hectic playlists. In a nutshell: First, there are still some awesome beats in places, but they are stuck or must have been created somewhere between 2016 and 2019. Second, as a rapper, Kanye only seems to be trying on »Donda«, charisma gone, exhilarating WTF moments no longer a given.