Kanye West’s Messiah complex has reached new heights. The man who once said that people looked at him as if he was Hitler has a new album called “Yeezus” with a one song, “I Am a God” (subtitled “featuring God”.)
West isn’t Jesus, perhaps not even a music deity to his fans any more. He certainly isn’t Public Enemy or Jay-Z, or as good as them. This CD is nowhere near his best.
It pushes X-rated hip-hop bragging off the scale with its abrasive beats. This driving industrial music is not so radio-friendly: Think Nine Inch Nails mixed with Nirvana or Radiohead at its most experimental.
West has repeatedly stated he is being ironic and is misunderstood. He has nobody but himself to blame with efforts like “New Slaves.”
The lyric goes: “f*** you and your Hampton house/ I’ll f*** your Hampton spouse/ c*** on her Hampton blouse/ and in her Hampton mouth/ Y’all ’bout to turn s*** up/ I’m ’bout to tear s*** down/ I’m ’bout to air s*** out/ Now what the f*** they gon’ say now?” Oh, just shut up. Rating: No stars.
After 40 minutes of this fantasizing, it’s good to turn to rock that’s more rewarding and by people who actually have brains that they use.
New dad Kanye could learn much by listening to a female rapper. While we wait for Azealia Banks’s debut album, “Broke With Expensive Taste,” we still have her fine single “212” as a taster. Rap need not be macho, it’s official. Rating: ***.
M.I.A. is also taking her time in releasing her new collection “Matangi.” Still, the single “Bring the Noize,” released yesterday, sounds like a summer hit if ever there was one. Rating: ***.
Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” is a blast of retro dance. The French band has cooked up a quirky blend of 1980s disco and cutting-edge electronics. It comes roaring out of the speakers on “Give Life Back to Music” and rarely lets up -- with the No. 1 hit “Get Lucky” a highlight. Rating: ****.
Queens of the Stone Age have made a career with hard-edged ZZ Top-style rock with a metallic edge. The bombast and pomp has often been too much. That said, “…Like Clockwork” is its best yet, with Dave Grohl on drums. Josh Homme peppers the tracks with fuzzy guitar solos. Rating: ***.
Laura Marling’s “Once I Was an Eagle” is a wonderfully literate reflection. The English singer-songwriter is sensitive and thoughtful: everything that West so often is not. She is still only 23 and this is her fourth impressive record. Marling is a Joni Mitchell for our times.
Ok, Marling’s acoustic strums are folk rather than hard rock; the songs medley into each other and there’s hardly a chorus to be heard. It’s still great. Rating: ****.
(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
What the Stars Mean: ***** Exceptional **** Excellent *** Good ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
Muse highlights include Scott Reyburn on the art market, Ryan Sutton on New York dining, Jeremy Gerard on New York theater, Mark Beech on music and Jeffrey Burke on books.